The Washington Post Fact-Checker gave its harshest rating of Four Pinocchios to a pair of Democratic presidential candidates who claimed black teenager Michael Brown was murdered in 2014 by a white policeman.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) both tweeted last Friday—which was the fifth anniversary of Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri—that Brown had been murdered by Officer Darren Wilson. However, Wilson was not indicted for a crime, and the Obama administration Justice Department issued an 86-page investigative report concluding there was no credible evidence that Wilson wasn't telling the truth that he killed Brown in self-defense.
5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 9, 2019
Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America. His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement. We must fight for stronger accountability and racial equity in our justice system.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 9, 2019
Reporter Glenn Kessler wrote Warren and Harris willfully ignored the Justice Department's findings and furthered the false narrative that Brown died with his hands up begging Wilson not to shoot: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot."
"Harris and Warren have ignored the findings of the Justice Department to accuse Wilson of murder, even though the Justice Department found no credible evidence to support that claim," Kessler reported. "Instead, the Justice Department found that the popular narrative was wrong, according to witnesses deemed to be credible, some of whom testified reluctantly because of fear of reprisal. The department produced a comprehensive report to determine what happened, making the senators' dismissal of it even more galling."
Witnesses supported Wilson's description of events that Brown tried to take his gun in a scuffle after he had robbed a store. After Brown punched Wilson several times, he ran off and ignored Wilson's calls to stop. Witnesses then said Brown turned around and ignored Wilson's repeated instructions to stand down, charging at the policeman. One witness said they would have shot sooner:
Witness 103, a 58-year-old black man: The witness "saw Brown punching Wilson at least three times in the facial area, through the open driver's window of the SUV. Witness 103 described Wilson and Brown as having hold of each other’s shirts, but Brown was ‘getting in a couple of blows.’ Wilson was leaning back toward the passenger seat with his forearm up, in an effort to block the blows. Then Witness 103 heard a gunshot and Brown took off running."
Witness 104: "Wilson did not fire while Brown momentarily had his hands up. Witness 104 explained that it took some time for Wilson to fire, adding that she ‘would have fired sooner.'"
Witness 102: "Wilson only fired shots when Brown was coming toward Wilson. It appeared to Witness 102 that Wilson's life was in jeopardy. … Witness 102 said he wanted to ‘bring closure to [Brown’s] family,' so they would not think that the officer ‘got away with murdering their son.'"
Witness 105: "She explained that she was coming forward because in speaking with her neighbors, she realized that what they believed had happened was inconsistent with what actually happened. She further explained that she had not been paying attention to media accounts, and had been unaware of the inaccuracies being reported."
The Fact-Check noted there was pressure in the neighborhood to not tell the truth about what happened. The "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" mantra that arose from the killing was dubbed one of the Post‘s biggest "Pinocchios" of 2015. Left-wing Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart acknowledged it was "built on a lie."
Liberal explainer site Vox also dinged Warren and Harris for their tweets, in less stark terms.
"The evidence, including a report released by President Barack Obama's Department of Justice, says otherwise," reporter German Lopez wrote.
Left-wing billionaire Tom Steyer also referred to Brown's death as a murder, although his tweet didn't fall under the Post‘s purview.
The worst part about Michael Brown’s death, five years later? His killer still walks free.
— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) August 9, 2019
MSNBC host and civil rights activist Al Sharpton referred to Brown's death as a "murder" in a tweet promoting his coverage over the weekend. MSNBC and CNN did not cover Warren and Harris's false tweets.
I closed out #PoliticsNation talking about the 5 year mark of the murder of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MI, the murder of Eric Garner in NY, and the continued pursuit of justice in this country. pic.twitter.com/gDavDQQMsY
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) August 10, 2019