Documentary: No Robbery Before Michael Brown Shot Dead
Documentary 'Stranger Fruit' argues teen wasn't robbing convenience store
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2017 3:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – The narrative of the last moments of Michael Brown's life tends to begin here: With the 18-year-old allegedly stealing cigarillos from a Ferguson, Missouri, convenience store shortly before he was shot dead by Officer Darren Wilson. Now, a documentary that screened Saturday at South by Southwest in Austin uses previously unseen surveillance footage to argue that Brown did not in fact rob Ferguson Market and Liquor, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The alternate story as presented in Stranger Fruit by Jason Pollock—a Michael Moore "protege," notes the Hollywood Reporter: In the new footage, Brown is shown arriving at the shop at 1am on Aug. 9, 2014. Pollock believes Brown was there to do a trade with store clerks: some marijuana in exchange for two boxes of cigarillos.

The clip shows Brown taking the boxes but then turning back and leaving them with the clerks, in Pollock's view, to retrieve later. The surveillance footage that was widely seen in the case shows Brown back at the shop just before noon, seizing the cigarillos and shoving co-owner Andy Patel when Patel asked Brown for payment (Patel wasn't working during Brown's earlier visit); a customer called 911, and Brown was dead minutes later. A lawyer for the store disputes the new chain of events, telling the New York Times, "Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave [the cigarillos] back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back." It's unclear how Pollock obtained the footage, but his reading of police records in the case, which mentioned the earlier visit, alerted him to its possible existence. Police haven't confirmed the authenticity of the video. (Here's what Darren Wilson's life was like one year after the shooting.)

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