Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) doubled down on her tweet that claimed black teenager Michael Brown was "murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri," saying Wednesday what mattered was an "unarmed man" was shot in the street.
"What matters is that a man was shot, an unarmed man, in the middle of the street, by police officers and left to die," Warren said. "And I think that's where our focus should be."
Warren and fellow presidential candidates Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Tom Steyer all used the term "murder" to describe Brown's death in 2014 at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson. The incident set off a debate about police violence and racial injustice. Although the notion that Brown was killed with his hands up and begging Wilson not to shoot was apocryphal, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" became a mantra for protesters.
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
However, Wilson was not indicted by the grand jury following an investigation. The Obama administration Justice Department released an 86-page investigative report concluding there was no credible evidence to discount Wilson's story that he acted in self-defense.
Witnesses saw Brown punching Wilson inside of his police car when the officer stopped him after realizing he was a suspect in a store robbery. Physical evidence and eyewitness testimony supported Wilson's account that Brown tried to take his gun and assaulted him inside his vehicle. Then, when he took off running, Wilson chased after him. Brown, ignoring instructions to stand down, charged at Wilson, and the officer fired multiple shots, killing him.
The Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler said for Warren and Harris—he didn't include Steyer in his story—to dismiss the Justice Department's findings was "galling."
"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 wrote. "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."
The Massachusetts Police Union ripped Warren as well, saying she had unfairly accused police of harming society.