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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

NYPD Confidential: Facts emerge to shine light on the Michael Brown case


NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 23: Rev. Al Sharpton (C) is joined by Eric Garner's family as they begin march during a rally against police violence on August 23, 2014 in the borough of Staten Island in New York City. Thousands of marchers are expected for today's rally which will be attended by the family of Michael Brown and the Reverend Al Sharpton among others. Eric Garner, 43, died while he was being arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes in front of a bodega and was put into a chokehold during a confrontation with police. An investigation is pending and the police officer who allegedly used the illegal chokehold has been placed on modified duty. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty Images / Kena Betancur

Forensic evidence seems to support what white police Officer Darren Wilson said happened before he shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown two months ago. The evidence appears to offer a legal justification for his actions.

Rabble-rousers, pundits and even ordinary people of goodwill take note: Whether in Ferguson, Missouri, or NYC, it's best to temper anti-police rhetoric -- and not rush to judgment -- before the facts are in.

In Ferguson, Wilson, 28, told authorities he was trying to get out of his car when Brown pushed him back in. Inside the car, the two fought and Wilson removed his gun from his holster. He fired two shots. One hit Brown in the arm, and the other missed.

Forensic evidence shows Brown's blood was on Wilson's gun, his uniform and on the car's interior door panel, according to The New York Times, which first reported it last week.

A struggle in his car would indicate Wilson may have felt his life was in danger, which would justify the shooting. Such a struggle also would make it difficult to charge Wilson with violating Brown's civil rights. But the forensic evidence does not explain why Wilson, after getting out of his car, repeatedly fired at Brown, killing him -- and spurring racial turmoil.

Further roiling tensions, some eyewitnesses said Brown was surrendering, holding his hands up when Wilson shot him; others have said Brown appeared to move toward Wilson.

A rush to judgment also played out in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. Black leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries have called for a conviction in the case of Garner, who died after resisting arrest by a white officer.

Sharpton has condemned Wilson's account as reported by the Times. "You are asking me to believe that a young man that was shot and knew he didn't have a gun ran back at you, in toward a gun that already shot him?" he said. "If that grand jury [in Ferguson] comes back with no indictment, then we are headed to Washington and we are going to have a national 'hands up' rally around the Justice Department like you have never seen before."

If that's the case, President Barack Obama, who invited Sharpton to the White House this summer, will learn what NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio hasn't: You deal with Sharpton at your peril.

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