This is a series of posts where I plan to go through all 4799 pages of transcripts before the Grand Jury in the Darren Wilson case, in order to figure out 1) should he have been indicted, and 2) is he guilty. Some background. This is the post introducing the series and giving you many images that have been released. This earlier pieceon Zimmerman also gives you a good primer on the law of self-defense in general, at least in Florida, while this piecediscusses how Missouri law deals with self-defense and the unique right of a cop to use force to stop a fleeing suspect (in some cases), and this piecediscusses (albeit briefly) the standard for indictment. I am not going to explain these points of law twice, so if you are confused, go back and read those.
This post will be updated to link to other posts in the series without notation that it has been changed.
So we are starting at the beginning. Since I am working off the version of the transcript I created, I might as well embed it for you in this post, below the fold.
If you happen to want to follow along, or just check my work, I will give you the citation by the internal citation of the transcripts (because in fact it is not one transcript but many), and also by giving you the page number in the pdf.
It starts off with Bob McCulloch from the prosecuting attorney’s office giving a pretty standard introduction to the Grand Jury. You can sense he is reciting, but it seems to come from the fact he has done this many times, not because he had a script he wrote for this particular case. It is worth noting that he alludes to the fact that the Grand Jury had already heard several other cases. He predicts they won’t see much of him—he says it will probably be the last time they will see him. Instead two of his subordinates are handing this: Kathi Alizadeh and Shelia Whirley. Alizadeh is the on-call prosecutor for all homicides and apparently got the call about the Wilson case within minutes of the police department finding out. Meanwhile Ms. Whirley was the lawyer herding the Grand Jury that term. They knew there was a federal investigation, and they would be sharing information with the feds. I read that as meaning that the Grand Jury will participate in that sharing. But they are still independent investigations, looking into whether different laws were violated. And he predicts that this sharing will slow down the process.
He informs them that they can ask witnesses their own questions, and indeed presents it as something they already know. In other words, he is saying it for the record, not because he needs to impart any information. He also talks about the ability to recall witnesses. This is consistent with my understanding that the jurors can summon their own witnesses. And he went through much of the mechanics, as did Ms. Alizadeh.
Anonymous “Medical Legal Investigator:”Finally on page 24 of the pdf, (Vol. 1, p. 24), we get to the first witness. The first is a medical examiner, whose name has evidently been redacted. But you know his job and he says he has been at it for 25 years. He didn’t impress me with his training, but his role is limited:
We are the eyes and ears of our pathologist. The person who is conducting the autopsy. They don't go to the scenes, we go to the scenes for them.
(Vol 1, p. 28; pdf p. 28). He is not the one who makes the call on what the cause of death is, but he looks for inconsistencies between the responding officer’s version of events and the body. This next part gets to one of the parts that is increasingly controversial:
Q Okay. And let's talk specifically about the case involving the shooting of Michael Brown. Did you take photographs?
A No, ma'am.
Q Why not?
A My battery in my camera died.
Q Were photographs being taken?
A Yes, ma'am.
Q By whom?
A St. Louis County Police Department.
Q Like their identification unit?
A Their identification unit, correct.
Q You saw them taking photographs?
A Yes, ma'am.
Q Do you have access to those photographs?
A If we need them, we can get them.
(Vol 1, pp. 31-32; pdf pp. 31-32). So it sounds like his lack of photographs were no big deal. It is worth noting that the photos released that I have seen so far have not been of Brown’s dead body, probably because it is grisly. But the hue and cry that this is some kind of serious mistake (from Mother Jones
, for instance) seems misplaced.
It is interesting to note that he says he saw no stippling—which is the burning of gun powder—at that time. Brown was by then covered in sheets (he arrived at about 2:30 with the incident being around noonish), and face down.
Reinforcing my impression that him not having a battery is not a big deal, we get this testimony:
I went over there with the police officers, the ID officers, we removed the sheets, took photographs of his back, lifted up the shirt, took more photographs. Then we rolled him over, I placed white clean sheets down on the ground and rolled him over onto those. Took more photographs, documented the injuries, looked through his pockets, looked through his pants for any weapons or anything of that nature.
(Vol 1, p. 38; pdf p. 38). So it’s not like his failure to bring a camera with sufficient battery power stopped him from getting photographs. He just had to get someone else to do it. He also described the injuries he saw:
Q Can you describe the injuries as you saw them?
A I saw one in the top of the head, several on his right eye, a bunch of blood, dried up blood. I guess road material, there was one here, there was an injury here, an injury on his side right here, two in the arm and one in here and a wound on his hand.
Q Did you see any wounds to his back?
A No, ma'am.
(Vol 1, p. 41; pdf p. 41). This doesn’t seem like a complete catalogue of his injuries, but whether there were injuries to the back was important in McColloch’s announcement Monday night. So note that: any person who says he was shot in the back is wrong. Not necessarily lying—we will have to judge that at the time—but wrong.
He next notes that Brown had no weapons, which is what we understood all along, but it is good to verify. Also earlier he mentioned that he typically spoke with the first responder. I wasn’t clear if that would be Wilson in this case, or the first responder after Wilson shot him. In any case, he indicated he didn’t meet with Wilson that day.
And we get what an unnamed detective claimed had happened:
That there was a, that Officer Wilson was driving down the roadway, he encountered the two individuals in the street, asked them to exit the street and an altercation started from there. And the decedent ran away from the vehicle, the officer gave chase. They met up again in the middle of the roadway and shots were fired.
(Vol 1, p. 43; pdf p. 43). It is important to note that this is not direct testimony. This is what lawyers call double hearsay, that is hearsay of what someone’s hearsay is, and there is a reason why as a rule that is not normally considered evidence. But it is there for what it is worth.
He goes on about the gunshot wounds:
A I think nine altogether, nine.
Q Where were they located, you can tell us? Refer to your report.
A One on top of the head, one to the right forehead, one around the eye, and then one in the neck, close to the neck/chest area, one on the right side and the rest in the arm and one in the hand.
(Vol 1, p. 50; pdf p. 50). He also says that he found a bit of what looked like pot in his pockets, for what that is worth. He noted that he saw no evidence of any paramedic trying to save Brown. He also says he is not a ballistics expert.
It appears that several times the jurors are asking questions and apparently they had to have their names redacted. At one point, one juror asks to verify that all the photos he needed was taken by someone else and he said they were.
And that is it for the first testimony and the first volume. But that is not it for the file, so let’s keep going, shall we?
The next volume begins a new day. There is a lot of frontage as the two attorneys go over some business. Then we get to the first witness of that day, also anonymous. (Hopefully this will not get too confusing.) I am going to call him:
Crime Scene Detective: that is how he describes his job. This is a man. He has been in this position for five years and he describes his job as follows:
Primarily our number one job is evidence at various crime scenes that we are requested to, photographing evidence, collecting evidence, diagramming scenes, videotaping various scenes.
(Vol 2, p. 21; pdf p. 103). He mentions that he typically video tapes the crime scene. He spends a great deal of time describing how he does his job, and then finally on around page 120 in the pdf (Vol. 2, page 38) he gets to the Brown case. He also notes that there were several instances of shots being fired near the crime scene. This often delayed the investigation, giving some insight into why Brown’s body laid out there for four hours. On page 153 of the pdf (Vol. 2, page 71) he says a four hour period where the body is laying in the street is actually “fairly common.” A few details leap out. Wilson had used a .40 caliber pistol. And he makes the important point that the numbering of evidence is not meant to do anything more than identify it. A shell casing marked #1 is not necessarily from the first shot fired. It is just so they can all be talking about the same shell casing in the future. They mention that the side mirror on the police SUV was pushed flat against the door but not broken (as modern side mirrors can be), and that the driver’s side window was broken inward, although it is not clear what caused it to be broken. (Vol 2, p. 112-113; pdf p. 194-195).
On page 199 of the pdf (Vol 2, p. 117), he mentions handprints you can see on the glass at the back of the SUV. He said it was not a bloody or muddy handprint. His impression is that it was as if someone put their hand on the car when it was wet and then the dust got at it. And then we get this bit of hearsay:
After I photographed it, somebody came up to me from the department and goes hey, just so you know, Darren was told during roll car to get his car washed because the sergeant saw the handprints on the back window.
(Vol 2, p. 118; pdf p. 200). All of which means it is unlikely to be relevant to the case (and he says as much a moment later), but at least answers a question I had looking at the photos: what the heck was with that handprint?
On page 206 of the pdf (Vol. 2, p. 124), we see a discussion of how they would know if there was any attempt at interventions to save Brown’s life, where he says that typically if paramedics try to help him they leave things like EKG devices at the scene. That suggests to him, but doesn’t prove that there was no attempt to save Brown’s life, most likely because at that point there was no chance of saving him. And he shows that there are no injuries on Brown’s back (in photos I have not seen and I suspect were not released to the public). (Vol 2, p. 126; pdf p. 208). And he revealed that as of that day he hadn’t spoken to Darren Wilson. (Vol 2, p. 127; pdf p. 209).
Here’s an interesting exchange. I will mark questions from the juror as [unidentified juror] and you will see an interesting point:
Q [Unidentified juror] Were there any droppings between the officer's car and the body?
A What type of dropping?
Q Blood droppings?
Q (By Ms. Alizadeh) There wasn't?
A No. I walked from my crime scene van to where the body was that day no less than 50 times. Along with the other three detectives, my detective sergeant and countless other crimes against person homicide detectives, and no one saw any, no one noticed any, we looked, nothing was ever found between the officer's car and where Michael Brown was.
Q [Unidentified juror] What's the distance between the police car, the officer's car and the body, do you know?
A 153 feet 9 inches.
(Vol 2, pp. 144-145; pdf pp. 226-227). You see from various reports there were first shots fired at the car, and then shots fired moments later closer to 150 feet from the car after an alleged pursuit. The initial shots at the car, as I understand it so far, resulted in a wound to Brown’s hand. But for whatever reason, he didn’t seem to bleed.
The race hustler Shaun King about a week ago claimed to have a big scoop when showing that Brown was killed 148 feet from the scene, here
, at Daily Kos. Without attribution he claimed that the police lied and said that Brown was killed about thirty five feet away from the SUV. As you can see the Grand Jury knew the body fell was about 150 feet, from the beginning. I will probably pester him on twitter and ask him who claimed it was 35 feet. I suspect the answer is no one said that, he just pulled the claim out of his keisters to make the appearance of a coverup based on something that doesn’t look like it was even a falsehood.
It is also worth noting that the detective was told that Wilson’s gun carried thirteen rounds: 12 rounds in the magazine, and one in the chamber. And yes, all cops everywhere keep one round in the chamber, as civilian gun owners are told to do when we carry. He also says (and this part is hearsay) that Wilson had one round left in the gun. So that is 12 shots fired, albeit by hearsay. On page 231 of the pdf (Vol. 2, p. 149) he notes that at that point in the investigation they had only found 10 casings, meaning that two were unaccounted for. Normally they don’t process the car at the scene, they save it for the lab, but he wanted to make sure the casings were accounted for, so they examined the car for that purpose only, but didn’t find them, but it also sounded like they were being limited in their search because it was not normally something they did. He did find blood in the car, but he wasn’t qualified to analyze it.
Eventually they find shell casings 11 and 12, which is marked as items 21 and 22 with the placards. So if I am understanding correctly, no shell casings were found in the car? It seems like the case, looking over the photos again, and that is not impossible. For instance, if one shot is fired in the car, the casing could have easily landed on Wilson’s body, and then when he got out the casing fell out of the car. As I noted in the footnote, the locations of casings only give you a general area where the shot is likely to have been fired; it doesn’t pinpoint anything. I do see a few casings around the car in his diagram, so that might be the explanation. We shall see.
And that takes us to the end of the first file, so let’s embed the next one:
Continuing with the same testimony:
He talks in some detail about the difficulty in tracking down projectiles, assuming that the bullets are not in someone’s body. Whereas shell casings tend to fall by where it was fired, projectiles could end up quite some distance away. It is unclear if he found any.
Going back to issues in the car, on page 14 of the new pdf (Vol. 2, p. 182), there is hearsay offered that another detective found a projectile in the car. That is hearsay, but that seems likely to be significant down the road. And that came from a juror question.
(By the way, regular jurors cannot ask questions, but grand jurors typically can. I may be slightly incorrect to call these people “jurors” but I figure you will understand what I am talking about.)
And that brings us to the end of this witnesses testimony and the end of that volume of the original transcript (although we are still only about thirty pages into the pdf. And that seems as good a place as any to stop.
Like I said in the introduction of the series, these posts will be almost like live-blogging. These posts are not meticulously planned, and I don’t have a pre-determined conclusion I am headed toward, except I do tend to trust juries, and I am cognizant that I am not seeing these witnesses—indeed, so far I don’t know their actual names. As such it impairs my ability to judge credibility, and therefore I really defer to the grand jury on that point—if they don’t believe them, or they do, I am reluctant to contradict them.
So far theses witnesses can be best described as “stage setting” witnesses. They gather evidence but they don’t analyze it. That appears to be the province of others.
I will try to get another one of these out today. Fortunately I am not even attempting to travel today, between the protesters blocking traffic and the SnowTrafficMaggedden we are expecting today, but the Walker family is still preparing for Thankgiving. My wife makes a mean ham, which is reason #423 why I cannot be Jewish and I will probably need to take out some time. Which is a roundabout way of saying blogging may be light. But we will see what I can do.
* This might be obvious to people who have used semi-automatic handguns, but in case it is not for you, where a shell casing falls is evidenceof where it was shot, but not perfect evidence. What happens when you pull the trigger on a semi-automatic handgun is that the hammer strikes the bullet, and the bullet fires. The energy of the recoil, or “kick” is used to push back the slide, eject the spent casing and then load the next shot. This is different from a revolver where the casing stays in the gun, and it is your muscle that sets up the next shot—in a semi-automatic the power of the shot does that work for you. But the ejection itself can go for some distance away from your gun. I don’t believe I have ever fired Wilson’s make and model of gun, but with my own handguns, I have seen a casing bounce around eight feet away on a smooth concrete floor (in an indoor range). So it is not a method to exactly pinpoint where a person was shooting, but it gives you some idea where it happened (assuming no one tampered with the scene).
I will note that the casings often go in weird directions. I have had casings fall into a shirt pocket. I had one land inside the collar of a polo shirt worn on top of an undershirt, making it necessary for me to untuck my shirt to let the casing fall out. And I am not exactly the biggest gun afficiano. So that can change where a casing lands, too.
So finding a casing in a car is strong evidence that the shot was fired in the car. But maybe you happened to be holding the gun near a car window and it ejected into the car? That doesn’t seem likely to be even an asserted scenario here, but we are going to be logical at every step of the way, here. Likewise, a casing found outside of a car might have been fired in a car, because in ejecting it just made it past the door, or it caught in a person’s clothing. In other words, it is some evidence of where the shots were fired, but it is not perfect evidence on this point.
My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated pedophile) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years. I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here
, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence. If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right. And thank you.
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I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct. In some cases, the conduct is even criminal. In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system. I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence. This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.
In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him. Do not call him. Do not write him a letter. Do not write him an email. Do not text-message him. Do not engage in any kind of directed communication. I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.
And for that matter, don’t go on his property. Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him. Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision. Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).
And do not contact his organizations, either. And most of all, leave his family alone.
The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report. And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request. That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.
And let me say something else. In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above. But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.