Several witnesses to Michael Brown's shooting have told their stories over the last month, but this week brings something new: the story as told by two outsiders.
The outsiders were a pair of construction workers who on Aug. 9 just happened to be working near the spot where Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. The workers were tracked down the by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and then later by CNN. Moreover, the CNN and Post-Dispatch stories appear to have built on and corroborated an interview one of the workers did with Fox 2 News last month.
The workers' names have not been published, but a video posted to Instagram shows them standing near the scene. Though the video has been available online for several days, CNN confirmed with the men that they are the ones on camera.
The audio is hard to make out, but CNN attributed the shouted phrase "he had his fucking hands up" to one of the workers. It is unknown who shot the video, and the person who posted it online did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
In any case, the construction workers' account is significant because they are outsiders lacking strong ties to the community. As the Post-Dispatch noted, others who already shared their stories "either knew Brown; lived at or near the Canfield Green apartments, where the shooting occurred; or were visiting friends or relatives there."
These are the most important details to emerge from the CNN and Post-Dispatch stories on the two construction workers:
Brown was allegedly running away from Wilson just before he died.
The workers did not see the first shot fired, but, according to the Post-Dispatch, one of them did hear a gun go off and turned around to see Brown running. Wilson pursued, one of the workers said, then fired another shot while Brown's back was turned.
According to the worker, Brown then stopped, stumbled, and began backing up. Wilson also started backing up, while continuing to fire his gun. After three shots, the worker said, Brown began moving toward Wilson, though it wasn't clear why.
One of the workers also told CNN, "The cop didn't say get on the ground. He just kept shooting."
Brown allegedly had his hands up.
Both stories mention Brown's hands being raised during the altercation. According to the Post-Dispatch account, Brown turned around after fleeing and and said "OK, OK, OK, OK, OK."
Brown's hands went down as he moved toward Wilson, one of the workers told the Post-Dispatch.
Brown had a long conversation with one of the workers before the shooting.
The Post-Dispatch story discussed a conversation Brown had with one of the workers. That conversation was first mentioned in a Fox 2 News interview last month. In that story, one of the workers mentioned being frustrated and said Brown stopped to talk with him. The worker swore, leading Brown to mention "feeling some bad vibes." Brown also reportedly told the worker "Jesus Christ would help" him as long as he didn't get angry.
The shooting happened about 30 minutes after Brown stopped to chat with the worker, according to the Post-Dispatch.
The workers' accounts of the shooting are unlikely to end speculation over what exactly happened.
While the accounts in the CNN, Post-Dispatch, and Fox 2 News stories all offer perspectives from non-community members, they still leave big holes in the narrative. Chief among them is what sparked the conflict and whether Brown was in some way an aggressor. The workers admitted in their interviews that they did not see the beginning of the altercation.
The accounts also don't mention how many shots were fired. An autopsy previously showed that Brown was shot at least six times, but the workers' accounts do not make it clear when Brown was shot or where he was standing. And ultimately, there are still numerous, often conflicting, witness accounts of what happened.
The video of the two workers originally was uploaded to Instagram by christopher_4_26, but was deleted from that profile Thursday. The version appearing in this story as of Friday is taken from that Instagram video.
It is unclear if christopher_4_26 originally shot the video, or if he found it elsewhere. He did not respond to BuzzFeed's request for comment. However, the video had been available on his profile since at least Sunday.
Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Jim Dalrymple II at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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