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Interview With Dorian Johnson Among New Grand Jury Documents Released

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces on Nov 24, 2014, that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch released more grand jury testimony in the case of former Ferguson police office Darren Wilson on Saturday, including the law enforcement interview with Dorian Johnson, who was with Michael Brown when he was killed in August.

Johnson's statement to St. Louis County police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not among the initial documents released on Nov. 24, the night McCulloch announced a grand jury had decided not to charge Wilson with Brown's death. In his statement on Saturday, McCulloch called the omission of Johnson's interview, and the transcripts of about 20 others witness interviews, "inadvertent."

A spokesman for McCulloch, Ed Magee, had previously said the office withheld some interviews at the request of the FBI, but did not clarify if the documents released on Saturday were the same interviews.

Johnson's testimony

(Portions of this document have been highlighted by St. Louis Public Radio reporters to point out crucial aspects of Johnson's testimony)

The interview with Johnson lasted about two hours. Both a St. Louis County detective and an FBI agent were there, as was Johnson's mother, his attorney Freeman Bosley Jr., and an unidentified man who said he wasin charge of Johnson's security.

Johnson told the officers generally the same story he told the grand jury nearly a month after the interview. It also generally matches the story he told in multiple media interviews before and after the interview.

  • He and Brown were walking down the middle yellow line of Canfield Drive, returning home from getting cigarillos at the Ferguson Market.
  • Wilson drove up, and told the two to "get the f- on the sidewalk." Johnson told him they were about a minute from home.
  • Wilson drove off briefly, then put the car in reverse and backed up, nearly hitting Johnson and Brown.
  • Wilson tried to get the car door open, but Johnson and Brown were standing so close, the door bounced back, knocking Wilson.
  • Wilson grabbed Brown by the neck and tried to grab him into the car. Brown, who had his hands full of cigarillos, tried to pull away. 
  • Johnson never saw Brown reach for Wilson's weapon.
  • Wilson drew his weapon while he was still sitting in the car, and fired the first shot out the window toward Brown and Johnson. Johnson said he saw blood on Brown's side, but did not see a bullet wound.
  • Both took off running, though Johnson eventually crouched behind a car.
  • Wilson got out and chased Brown, firing once again and hitting him in the back. Johnson never heard the officer give any commands.
  • Brown turned around, and put his hands up in surrender. Wilson fired several more shots.

Johnson said repeatedly that he never saw Brown's hands go into the car, or reach for Wilson's gun. He also said he never saw Brown try to punch the officer.
Parts of Johnson's statement have been disproved by the physical evidence. None of the bullets entered Brown from the back, and a bullet was recovered from inside the driver's side door of Wilson's police SUV. Brown's autopsy also showed scrapes on his wrist and hands, which could have come from punching Wilson.

Wilson said in his own statements and to the grand jury that he and Brown struggled for his service weapon inside the car. Brown suffered a graze wound on his right thumb.

Other Points In Johnson's Testimony

  • Johnson had warrants out for his arrest in Cole County at the time of the interview. Both the FBI and the County police made it clear from the beginning that they had no interest in arresting Johnson for those warrants or any other crimes.
  • Johnson said he thought he was being pranked when he saw Brown take the cigarillos from the Ferguson Market without paying for them.
  • Johnson was running on a schedule that day. Toward the end of the interview, Bosley, the attorney references something with the NAACP. Bosley also mentions the Post-Dispatch being eager to talk to Johnson.
  • At the end of the interview, one of the law enforcement officers calls Johnson "the star witness."

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.