Hands Up, Don’t Shoot and the Other DOJ Narrative

The second Department of Justice (“DOJ”) report on Ferguson to come out in recent weeks is just as explosive as the first one, if not more so, but it has not received the enormous amount of media attention the first report garnered. Perhaps that is because in covering the second report, the media would have to eat a lot of crow. The second DOJ report on the shooting of Michael Brown that synthesized the evidence from three autopsies, the physical evidence of the crime scene, and a six-month investigation that included interviews of dozens of citizens–many of whom were too afraid to come forward before–and concluded that the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” narrative was a lie. Michael Brown did not have his hands up when encountering Officer Wilson, and just as the grand jury had determined earlier, the DOJ report reached the conclusion that the physical evidence–the wounds on both Wilson and Brown–could only be consistent with Wilson’s version of events. Brown was attacking Wilson at the time he was shot, and Wilson acted in self-defense.

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was a lie. The narrative that started a city and led to a nation rioting was a lie. This is pretty big stuff. Yet it is not receiving the attention that the first DOJ report on Ferguson did, which showed the systemic racial discrimination and exploitation of the African-American community in Ferguson by the white city managers, police force and judiciary. The evidence that the report relies on is incontrovertible, yet many are arguing that it and the report should be ignored. But accepting the DOJ’s evidence and findings in one area related to Ferguson and rejecting it in another is a double standard at best.


“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was started by one person lying to the police, to the media, to the nation. The DOJ investigation found that witnesses who either knew that Brown did not have his hands up or that had not in fact seen the incident, nevertheless felt compelled to follow the already established narrative. They were intimated, bullied and feared telling the truth. The incendiary narrative went viral, and because of the horrible state of race relations in Ferguson, led to the awful riots last August. Whole businesses were destroyed–people’s livelihoods–and people across the nation demonstrated, and in some cases rioted, in support.

The lie was a criminal act–falsifying a criminal report–and there were many other criminal acts that followed: perjury, witness intimidation, inciting riots, and arson to name a few. Why are no criminal charges being filed? Why is there no outrage over these crimes, no call for accountability for them and the destruction they caused? While the answers to these questions most likely lie in the findings of the first DOJ report, the willingness of many, including the media, to remain silent about these facts is troubling.

Law is based on fact and evidence, and adherence to both. Once that is lost, arbitrariness and chaos rule–causing scenes not unlike the riots in Ferguson.


If you are in need of advice regarding criminal matters, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Pak & McRae Law, LLC.

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Pak & McRae Law

At Pak and McRae Law, LLC we provide straightforward, sincere criminal defense for local, state, and federal matters. Our team includes a former Assistant District Attorney, so we understand how prosecutors approach cases and will use those insights to benefit your case.

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