CNN's Chris Cuomo: Just Because Michael Brown Dealt Drugs Doesn't Mean He Was a 'Drug Dealer'

March 13, 2017

CNN New Day host Chris Cuomo insisted Monday that just because a video appeared to show Ferguson police shooting victim Michael Brown overseeing a drug deal, that doesn't mean he was a "drug dealer."

Brown was shot and killed in August 2014 by Ferguson, Mo. officer Darren Wilson, sparking widespread protests and a national debate about police violence. During the debate over the shooting, Ferguson police released a video that appeared to show Brown committing a "strong-arm robbery" of cigarillos from a nearby convenience store shortly before he was confronted by Wilson.

But the creators of the new documentary Stranger Fruit claim they've uncovered new evidence that puts that incident in a different light. Filmmaker Jason Pollock claims surveillance video footage from 1 AM the on day of the shooting proves that Brown didn't steal the cigarillos, but the clerk traded them to him in exchange for marijuana. Pollock alleges Brown was just collecting on the deal later on in the day.

"If taken on its face as purported in the documentary, it would go to the suggestion that Mike Brown wasn't there to steal, he was there to do a transaction which may or may not have been legal," Cuomo reported.

CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck responded that it all amounted to the same.

"It still shows him as a drug dealer anyway if it's true," he said.

"How?" asked Cuomo.

Cuomo's resistance to the idea seemed to take Houck aback.

"Well, Mr. Pollock basically said that he was giving marijuana to the [clerk] for cigarillos," Houck said.

"That doesn't make him a drug dealer," Cuomo said, stressing the last word.

"It’s a drug deal Chris, it’s a drug deal," insisted the former NYPD detective. "It doesn't matter how it's done. If I give you drugs for something, that's a drug deal, you go to jail."

"Right, but that doesn't make him a drug dealer," Cuomo said, continuing the stress the last word.

"What I'm saying is it basically– it is," said Houck.