A documentary about the death of Michael Brown, the Ferguson, Missouri black teen who was killed by a white police officer, has been released. According to the filmmaker, unseen footage shows the teen may have made a drug deal just before his death.
The new documentary, “Stranger Fruit,” details Brown’s death at the hands of the Ferguson cop. It made its debut at the South by Southwest festival on Saturday.
The Michael Brown documentary features video uncovered by the filmmaker. One “Stranger Fruit” clip shows the 18-year-old just hours before the shooting. He was in a local convenience store.
It was initially reported that Brown may have robbed that store before Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson took his life in a fatal shooting. But, the newly uncovered footage proves, there was no robbery.
But, it does catch some other type of exchange that suggests Brown may have done a drug deal, in public, just before the fatal incident went down.
In a clip featured on The New York Times, Brown is seen entering Ferguson Market and Liquor around 1 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2014. He walks up to the counter, hands the cashier what looks like a small bag and takes a bag of cigarillos. Brown is seen walking to the door before putting the cigarillos back on the counter and leaving.
In a scene from “Stranger Fruit,” director Jason Pollock says he thinks the clip captures Brown delivering a small amount of marijuana — which the employees at the store appear to smell and inspect once he hands it over. When Brown returned to the shop later that day, he did not rob it, Pollock argues — he simply stopped by to get the cigarillos he left there hours earlier.
“There was some type of exchange, for one thing, for another,” Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, says in the scene.
“These people know each other well enough that this is the relationship that they have.”
A lawyer for the convenience store denied that narrative.
“There was no transaction,” Jay Kanzler told the Times.
“There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”
The documentary notes that Ferguson police reports acknowledged the existence of the video and gave basic descriptions of what it shows, but said nothing about a potential drug deal. The existence of this clip had never before been made public.
About 11 hours after Brown’s visit in the video, he got into a confrontation with Wilson as the officer responded to reports of a robbery at Ferguson Market. Within 90 seconds of their encounter, Wilson had fatally shot the unarmed Brown.
Wilson said he got into a violent struggle with Brown, and he was later cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a local grand jury and a federal civil rights investigation.
Brown’s death set off weeks of violent protests in Ferguson and was one of the major events that fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.