Filmmaker Defends Use of Ferguson Surveillance Video

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) – A filmmaker is denying that surveillance video in his documentary about the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, was edited in a deceptive way.

Jason Pollock’s documentary raises new questions about events leading up to the fatal Aug. 9, 2014, encounter in which white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown, who was 18, black and unarmed. Wilson was later cleared of wrongdoing.

Pollock responded by calling St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch a “master of deception” and standing by the video shown in his documentary “Stranger Fruit.”

“He’s trying to make it seem like I did something that I didn’t,” Pollock said of McCulloch on Monday in a phone interview. “He’s a master at deception, I’ll give him that, and he tricked the world for a long time, but he can’t trick us now. Because anybody who sees that video knows exactly what they see.”

The documentary, which premiered Saturday, includes earlier and previously unseen surveillance footage showing Brown inside the store at 1:14 a.m. getting what appears to be two drinks from a cooler, then going to the counter and requesting cigarillos. The clerk puts the drinks and cigarillos in a bag.

Brown gives something to a clerk, who appears to sniff it. A second clerk also sniffs what appears to be a small bag. Brown starts to leave but then returns to the counter, talks to the clerks and leaves without the bag containing the drinks and cigarillos.

Pollock said he believes the footage shows Brown trading a small amount of marijuana in exchange for the cigarillos. Pollock reasons Brown returned 10 hours later to pick up the bag of cigarillos that he simply had set aside earlier not to steal cigarillos as police claimed.

The grainy unedited footage, which Ferguson Market attorney Jay Kanzler also released, shows a clerk pulling both boxes of cigarillos from the bag after Brown leaves and putting them back on a shelf. Another worker takes the drinks back toward the cooler.

Pollock said those actions are not relevant.

“I didn’t edit the exchange,” Pollock said. “I decided to end my scene after Michael left the store because after that it is irrelevant what happened to the (cigarillos) and it is irrelevant what they (the clerks) did with them. The exchange is over, they had the weed, and then he decided to leave the store. He did not rob the store.”

Pollock said the clerks lied because they didn’t want to admit to involvement in a drug deal. But McCulloch said there was no evidence the workers did anything wrong.

Michael Brown Sr. spoke about what he saw in the video with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin Monday afternoon.

He says it confirms more of what he already knew.

“I just want the public to know that he [Michael Brown] wasn’t a bad guy – how bad they actually demonized his name, and the family, because of what they showed, they put out there,” Brown Sr. says. “I’m just happy that the public can see with their own eyes.”

The newly released footage also raised questions about how forthcoming police and prosecutors were about evidence. McCulloch said the earlier encounter involving Brown at the store was noted in a police report released on the night in November 2014 when the grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, who later resigned.

St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch says filmmakers heavily edited the footage to distort an incident that occurred several hours before Brown died. McCulloch and the attorney for the store both say there was no bartered deal between Brown and store workers.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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