The South By Southwest Film Festival always makes headlines for innovative documentaries, but this year, one filmmaker may have solved a crime.
Director and Screenwriter Jason Pollock showcased the film “Stranger Fruit,” depicting the unedited footage of Michael Brown in a convenience store. The film shows that Brown, who was killed in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 for a robbery, never robbed the store.
Previously, police claimed they shot the 18-year-old because he robbed the convenience store and he was a suspect. However, “Stranger Fruit” shows that Brown made a marijuana deal with an employee. Now, the filmmaker and video viewers believe the police officer killed Brown moments later for a bad marijuana deal.
According to the movie, Brown entered Ferguson Market and Liquor around 1 a.m. on August 9, 2014. He went to the counter and handed a brown bag to the store clerk, who appears to sniff the contents. The clerk then gave Brown a shopping bag of cigars. Right before leaving the store, Brown turns around and returns the bag to the clerk. He appears to ask the clerk to hold the bag for safekeeping.
The footage shown by police in 2014 depicted Brown nearly 12 hours later, shoving the store owner. At this visit, Brown was attempting to get his back of cigars before leaving the scene. Police say that Officer Darren Wilson, who killed Brown hours after the afternoon visit, had reason to do so. Investigators claim Wilson feared for his life because of Brown’s alleged robbery and Brown assault him.
Now, many people believe the evidence suggest Brown never robbed the store. Rather, he was returning to the store to pick up his part of a deal that went wrong.
Pollock said the new footage shows critical insight into the case.
“They destroyed Michael’s character with the tape,” he said. “And they didn’t show us what actually happened.”
While this footage is new to civilians, St Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch said police knew about the footage. During the case, they decided the video was not “admissible.”
“It was determined that it was neither relevant nor material to anything that happened that day,” he said. “This is not new information. It’s certainly not a surprise to anyone.
Protests sparked in response
The breaking footage sparked another round of protests from Ferguson locals. After the movie’s premiere, 100 people stood outside the convenience store on Sunday. On Monday, police arrested someone who attempted setting a police car on fire by placing a lit napkin in the car’s gas tank.
This is the second wave of massive protests related to Brown. Despite Officer Wilson’s clearance of the case, Brown’s deaths sparked massive violent protests and national coverage in 2014. The focal point of the coverage was lethal force used against black civilians.