Return to Transcripts main page


Ferguson Police Robbery Video; Ferguson Police Revealed Name Of Officer That Shot Michael Brown; Police Chief Officer Saw Stolen Cigars; Ferguson Store Video Sparks Outcry

Aired August 15, 2014 - 20:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in for Anderson.

The sun going down on Ferguson, Missouri after a very big day. And after six days of growing public pressure, the police department finally released the name of the officer who shot and killed 18-year- old Michael Brown. The that officer's name Darren Wilson.

The department also released an incident report out an alleged convenience store robbery and video purportedly showing Brown doing the crime, allegedly stealing small cigars and Brown shoving a clerk. The report calls it a strong armed robbery.

There were mixed messages today from the police department. Earlier in the day, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson laid out a timeline that left the impression officer Wilson was responding to the robbery call when he shot Michael Brown, that as you might imagine set off anger in the community. People calling it victim blaming, character assassination and a distraction from the central question, did officer Wilson shoot an unarmed man who had his hands up in surrender. The alleged robbery, they said, had nothing to do with the officer's decision to shoot. Then, in a true bombshell late in the day, chief Jackson changed his story.


CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE: There were two separate officers. This robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer and Michael Brown. The initial contact between the officer and Mr. Brown was not related to the robbery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Why did he stop Michael Brown?

JACKSON: Because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic. That was it.


BLITZER: Officer Wilson, he said was not aware that a robbery had taken place or Michael Brown was suspected of it or suspected of anything for that matter. Then just a little while later, he changed the story again telling our Don Lemon that yes, officer Wilson did know about the robbery, but did not know Brown was the suspect until he saw cigars in Brown's hand and made the connection. You are going o hear more from the police chief shortly.

Also, from Eric Davis, Michael Brown's cousin, and from Dorian Johnson, he is the other person purportedly on that same convenient store videotape.

It is a very busy night for all of us. Don Lemon, especially, is in Ferguson. He has been talking to a lot of people there.

Don, last night the demonstrations were very peaceful. They appeared almost celebrating. What is the mood like right now?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mood is -- there -- it is peaceful. It's a different mood, though. It's not quite celebratory. I think people here are protesting now because they feel the need to even more because they are thinking that police here by releasing the name of the officer and also releasing that videotape in the convenience store, that they are trying to demerge (ph) Michael Brown's reputation, that they are bringing this up as a diversion to what they say is the real issue here. And the real issue they believe is a confrontation and of course, the killing of Michael Brown.

It is a different mood because last night, Wolf, it was warm, it wasn't raining. Tonight, it is raining. So it put a damper on the protests a little bit. People have come under the overhang of this (INAUDIBLE) where people get gas and they have assembled here. Some people are still assembled on the street and they are waiting for the rain to pass.

But again, they are thinking that the officers are trying to discredit Michael Brown's story, and that's what they are concerned about. They want the real issue, the real focus to remain on the shooting on the killing, on that street, not far from here, Wolf.

BLITZER: And you and I have been speaking all day, Don. Describe the reaction of the folks there in Ferguson to the release of that convenience store footage.

LEMON: It was almost like, I hate to give a sports analogy. It was almost like you were upset because something awful happens in an event that you're watching. And as they were watching television this morning and they heard the news, everyone sort of let out this sigh like man, why at this point? Here we go again. Here we go. We can't trust the police.

The police had trumped up charges so to speak. The police have come up with another story, another excuse to try to put the blame on the victim. And then shortly after that, Wolf, as you and I know, the family of Michael Brown released a statement saying the same thing calling it victim blaming and saying it's further reason, another reason not to trust the police here.

Many people, Wolf, don't believe that it is Michael Brown on that video in the convenience store. They still don't believe it.

BLITZER: Even though the family lawyers, Michael Brown's family lawyers, they have acknowledge that is in fact Michael Brown inside that convenience store?

LEMON: They still don't believe it even though the lawyers -- listen, I spoke to one of the relatives tonight, a cousin of Michael Brown who said, you know, he all but admitted yes, it is him. He said when you're 18 years old, how many silly things did you do but you didn't deserve to die? The family admitting it. The lawyers admitting it, and also, Dorian Johnson who was with Michael Brown on the day he died, his attorney admitting it. He admitted it through his attorney. He spoke to the FBI, told the FBI that it was him in the convenience store. The people here still don't believe it.

There is a big commotion going on and that is Jesse Jackson is here. So people are excited that Jesse Jackson is here and I guess they feel like there is more of a show of strength of someone who is of some authority. And so, the crowd is following the Reverend Jesse Jackson around this quick trip as he makes his way through the crowd and makes his way through the family as well.

But yes, they still don't believe it. They believe some that, you know, some of the video may have been photo shopped, even though there is an admission by the family, by the attorneys and even by the man who was with Michael Brown on the day he died.

BLITZER: We'll have you stand by, Don, because we'll check back with you throughout this hour. Don Lemon is on the scene for us in Ferguson, Missouri. I want to drill down now a little more on the convenience store tape that's generating so much controversy.

360's Randi Kaye has this.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A convenience store Saturday morning, what you are about to see is what police call a strong-armed robbery. They say that's Michael Brown entering the store, white t-shirt, long tan shorts and a red cardinals baseball hat. His friend Dorian Johnson right behind him. It's 11:52 a.m. and 58 seconds, according to the police's incident report. The surveillance camera shows four seconds later, Brown is at the counter.

Watch closely. See this store employee in the red shirt? Apparently coming from the restroom. She goes behind the counter. Just 12 seconds later, police say Brown reaches for a box of swisher sweet cigars and hands them to Johnson without paying for them. What happens next is a bit on cured by a display case but watch closely here. Police say there is some sort of confrontation involving Brown, a struggle. Police say Brown grabbed more cigars. He had been in the store now just 32 seconds.

Seventh seconds later, Brown's friend Johnson puts the box of cigars Brown handed him back on the counter returning them, but police say Brown just seconds later bends down to pick up some cigars he dropped, even looks a customer in the eye then makes his way to the door.

At the door, about ten seconds later, a store employee who appears to have a set of keys in his hand attempts to put himself between the man believed to be Brown and the exit door. Still holding the cigars in his right hand, the man police say is Brown grabs the clerk with his left hand and clearly shoves him back into a display rack.

It all might have ended there, but take a look at what happens next. Just about one minute into this. Police say instead of leaving right away, Brown turns back one final time, advancing on the store employee who tried to stop him. Towering over him, police say it was an attempt to intimidate the employee who quickly backs down. Only then does Brown turn and exit at 11:54 a.m. He's in and out of the store in one minute and two seconds, about ten minutes later, he's dead.

Randi Kaye, CNN New York.


BLITZER: A lot to talk about. Joining us now, founder Boyce Watkins, political commentator at Hot Buzz TV is Marc Lamont Hill and legal analyst Danny Cevallos.

Boyce, let me start with you. We got a lot from police today. But you're not satisfied with the flow of information. You think they should have been more up front about what they could release and when, explain.

BOYCE WATKINS, FOUNDER, YOURBLACKWORLD.COM: Yes, I think we have to ask them, what took you so long? Why did it take this long to put together a story that you're not even sure about that keeps changing over and over again? It only adds to the mistrust that people have, not just for Ferguson police but really nationally for police deputies across the country. Because people aren't just protesting what happened to Michael Brown or what Ferguson police did. They are really protesting the consistent disrespect, lack of regard, consistent misinformation that often comes from police. Because when you have situations where there are no witnesses and cell phones and nothing to capture what officers are doing, there are some officers who feel think they can operate above the law.

And so, at the end of the day, they haven't explain OK, if he stole these cigars, should he have been executed on the street? That wasn't answered for us today. So there is still a lot of work to do on this.

BLITZER: And Danny, you think this was a fairly quick release of information, that it's unlikely the police were trying to be strategic in the timing, is that your thought?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, Wolf, clearly I'm bias. I'm a criminal defense attorney so I feel like I've spending a lot of time asking and not getting police records. So to men, a matter of two weeks doesn't seem shocking when many of us fought for records for over a year. But in a case like this, I don't think we shouldn't be so quick to jump to that this is some conspiracy. Rather, this maybe a police department that's just not equipped to deal with this level of attention.

But I have to caution everyone, yesterday we had no information and we complained. Today, now, we're complaining that we don't like the way the information was released. No matter what we have to agree that having the information today where at least in a better position than yesterday when we had nothing. And although, people might have wanted it on day two or day three, the reality is, is that in an investigation, marshalling this evidence is not an overnight process.

BLITZER: Let's not forget the incident took place, the killing took place on Saturday and now it's now Friday.

Marc, you say none of the facts that came to light today explain why this young man, eye witnesses said he had his hands up in the air was shot to death.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And that's what I find confusing. And I would probably disagree with Danny a little bit. It certainly takes days to get certain types of information out. They want to make sure their ducks are in a row, but it doesn't take six days to release the name of the officer. They could have done that.

But on the day that they release the officer's name, they release this tape, they released this information, which, I think again, becomes like a slight of hand trick which diverts our attention away from what we should be talking about, which is why and how Michael Brown was shot and killed dead on the street with his hands in the air, unarmed, a police officer obviously armed 35 feet away. That's the question here.

And whether or not he shoplifted with some cigars a few hours prior has nothing to do with it. Even if he's guilty of that, it's a extrajudicial killing and stealing cigars isn't a capital offense. So I don't see how these things are connected.

BLITZER: Well, you say it is criminalization of the victim, right, Marc?

HILL: Indeed. It's a pattern that we see over and over and over again. With Trayvon Martin, they told us he smoked marijuana and was suspended from school. With Rodney King they, you know, few decades ago, they told us that he was a drug addict and a violent gang banger. With Renisha McBride in Detroit, they told us that she was drunk and trying to break into someone's home. With Eric Garner a few weeks ago, they told us that he was selling illegal cigarettes. None of their bad habits that they had them were connected to the killing that occurred and that's what we need to be focused on, the killer not the victim.

BLITZER: Boyce, you've been monitoring the reaction in the African American community well beyond Ferguson and Missouri. How are people feeling based on what you're seeing and hearing about today's developments?

WATKINS: I think people are very frustrated. I think they are going to be frustrated after this is over no matter what the outcome is. Because we have to remember that there -- there is a Michael Brown in every city. I am in Chicago. We have at least probably a couple hundred Michael Browns this year. There are cities across the country where the police operate in ways that are just as sinister as what we see in Ferguson. And really, personally, I've reminded people that's really what we're protesting. It goes deeper than one person or one incident or one department. We cannot somehow believe that cleaning up what is happening in Ferguson, is going to fix the problem that exist across America, which is that there is a consistent disrespect of American citizens by police officers.

And also, when it comes to the life of a black male in America, there is almost nothing that has valued less than the life of that young man. And in fact, in many situations where black males have been victims, whether it is by from a police officer or someone else, it is very easy to paint that individual as someone who was about to commit some horrible sinister act and people buy into that and that's why so many young men die and no one even cares about it.

BLITZER: Danny, there is two separate investigations now underway in St. Louis county investigation as well as a federal investigation, the justice department, the FBI investigation. Are you confident when all the investigations are complete we will know exactly what happened?

CEVALLOS: I can't possibly be confident about that at this point, Wolf. But we've got a lot more information than we did before. And I have to believe once we get the officer's statement, which we really haven't heard from him, once we get that side of the story, this entire case boils down. Based on what we've heard today and what a swing of events back and forth today, everything comes down to what was in that officer's heart and mind at the moment that he stopped Michael Brown. Because if he was aware of the robbery on any level, it is different than if he was just stopping them for jaywalking.

And I have to add, we need to stop using the word shoplifting. It seems from the video that this was a theft plus force, which under the law is a robbery and in Missouri that's a class B felony. If the officers was aware of a violent crime like that, that does change the legal contours. But we don't know what he knew and when he knew it yet. I believe, Wolf, though, that we will soon.

BLITZER: Yes. We know he's been interviewed twice, the police officer who killed this 18-year-old.

All right, guys, thanks very much. Boyce Watkins, Mac Lamont Hill, Danny Cevallos, we will continue our conversations.

Up next, Michael Brown's family angrily denounced the release of the surveillance video calling it character assassination. We are going to speak to a family attorney in just a moment.


BLITZER: Lawyers for Michael Brown's parents say the family is quote "beyond outrage" that Ferguson police released the convenience store videotape out of this conference this afternoon. One lawyer angrily blasted police saying that Brown's parents believe the video release was a strategic move aimed at diminishing (ph) their son's character.

Let's go back to Don Lemon. He is in Ferguson for us. He is standing by with one of the Brown family lawyers -- Don. LEMON: Yes. And of course, when that videotape come out, everybody

wanted to know what does the family have to say? What is the reaction? And I'm joined now by Daryl Parks. He is a family attorney. What was the family's reaction to the videotape being released today?

DARYL PARKS, FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, you have to think their son has been murdered, and they decide on the day to release the name of the person, they strategically decide they want to now also show you some other information, still photos that have nothing to do with when he was murdered. And so, you have to be very skeptical of that. Well, when we saw those pictures, it left more questions than answers.

LEMON: But you're not denying that is Michael Brown on the video.

PARKS: Certainly it's his likeness, of course.

LEMON: And so, what is it about seeing the actions on video and what police said? You clearly see him taking something. What is your reaction to that. Because it's not the picture that was painted of Michael Brown as a gentle giant. He's pushing a store clerk.

PARKS: No. I think you also have to agree, though, what you thought you saw in the still pictures is not what you ultimately say when you saw the video. It's not like he beat someone up. He pushed somebody, yes, he did that. However, the key in this case is the fact that this officer came and according to all the witnesses came and shot him execution style in the head.

LEMON: Yes. You believe what happened in the convenience store has nothing to do with what happened just a couple of blocks away from here where he lost his life and we'll get to that.

But I want to stick to the videotape quickly. Did the family know this videotape would be released, that this incident happened before today?

PARKS: No. I think it became clearer, unless you mention (ph), you never know that authorities on this region, that this chief decided this morning early, that he was going to do it. And so, I don't know what he intended to do. But clearly, what he did at the first press conference inside and all what we seeing right now.

LEMON: Yes. You say that this is character assassination on much the same way that it was during the Trayvon Martin case.

PARKS: Certainly.

LEMON: And the George Zimmerman trial.

PARKS: Think about it. I mean, why else is this video important for this case that kid here now as to what happened last Saturday. When this kid was shot and killed execution style. Why would you release that other than to demonize him in that situation? There is no other reason. Why wouldn't you say something about the shooter? It's the shooter's intent and mind said, that is going to be the key here for both investigations that are going on in this case.

LEMON: So the videotape released today, many people even though you're saying it is his likeness, other family members of the Dorian Johnson has admitted that it was him, people still believe it. Does the speak to the mistrust of the authorities figure and the police department here?

PARKS: The mistrust is the fact they give it to us on Friday, Don. They had all week. They could have been told us this, right? but they didn't choose to do that. They chose to do it strategically. And I think people have distrust that if the issue was the name of the person who shot Michael, why would you do this? So the distrust is in the process.

LEMON: The police chief seems that he was simply responding to the freedom of information act, the sunshine law (ph) request that he got and he had to do it today if he was going to release the video, he figured he should release the name of the officer as well in an act of transparency, do you buy that?

PARKS: Well, I don't buy that because he could have done it earlier in week. But he choice that he could have give us a name earlier in the week. Why (INAUDIBLE) at the same time? But most importantly, though, why is that video important as to what happened in this case in the murder of Michael? It's not important.

LEMON: It's not important at all?


LEMON: But it goes to -- this is going to be try in a court of law and I would imagine it's going to go to some sort of a grand jury, it is going to speak to character and it is going to speak to what precipitated this. How would you argue that in a court of law?

PARKS: What precipitated this and what actually happened, we know that there was an altercation within the car. We know that all the witnesses that Michael has definitely step away, officer not in danger, Michael attempts to surrender to the officer even though he is surrendering with his head down, he's shot.

And so, that's what the evidence is going to point to and that's serious right because when this kid was trying to surrender, not trying to strike a blow. No one has testified that he was just trying to harm the officer at that time. Those are the facts that are going to be important as to what happened when he pulled that shot that killed Michael.

LEMON: To talk more about character, interviewed Dorian Johnson's attorney today. And he is saying to the FBI, Dorian admitted that it was him and that it was they call him big Mike. And you are going to hear the rest of the interview a little bit later on here on CNN. He was saying it was big Mike and that big Mike was the one who was stealing the cigarellos so to speak or the mini cigars and putting them in a bag and he said, I don't steal. I mean, he attempted to walk out of the door and big Mike is the one who was stealing and he has -- he's not here to defend himself. What do you make of that?

PARKS: Well, first of all, remember, the chief told you that this particular officer had no knowledge of the previous incident whatsoever. So it relates to why and how Michael was killed had nothing to do with it. That's important because if he tried to drag that into it, it takes you away from the real culprit of the murder --

LEMON: Which happened in the middle of the street. Thank you very much.

PARKS: Thank you so much.

LEMON: I appreciate it. Daryl Parks. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Don. I know Don is going to be with us throughout this hour and will anchor a special "360" in the next hour. So Don, don't go too far away.

Is the Ferguson police chief changing his story, what he told Don about whether the officer who killed Michael Brown knew he was a suspect in a robbery? That's coming up next.


BLITZER: When Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson spoke to reporters this afternoon, there was a few bombshells of that police of which was that the officer who killed Michael Brown stopped him not only because he was walking down the middle of the street. Jackson said the police officer didn't even know that Brown was suspected in the robbery of the convenience store just moments earlier. But then seemed to change the story in an interview a little bit later.

Don Lemon is joining us again from Ferguson. It's very complicated here. It gets more complex by the hour, doesn't it?

LEMON: It certainly does. And he gave us a lot of information. But also, Wolf, he had a lot of explaining to do. He left a lot to the imagination. And my first question was why release the name and the video at the same time, take a listen.


LEMON: So there have been a lot of questions about the releasing of the video and the releasing of the officer's name at the same time where it appears they are not connected, but by doing so, you are connecting them. Can you say beyond the shadow of a doubt that that is Michael Brown in the video that --who pushes a clerk and steals a cigarette, cigarellos.

JACKSON: I don't think I ever did say that that was anyone. What I said was I was getting questions from the media about a robbery that occurred prior to the shooting, and I wasn't commenting on that robbery. And then I started getting freedom of information requests from various news outlets.

And we sat on it as long as we could and reached the point where we had to release it, and I felt it would be prudent if I was releasing that, it could be inflammatory if I release that, but didn't release the name of the officer.

LEMON: You do think it is Michael Brown?


LEMON: Beyond a shadow of a doubt?

JACKSON: I think it's Michael Brown.

LEMON: But you understand the controversy and the outrage because family members and not only family members, but people in the community say that you are trying to discredit him, trying to soil his reputation, and trying to divert attention to something else besides the actual shooting.

JACKSON: We are not. We try to sit on this thing as long as we could. I didn't want to release it. I was told by my city attorney that she was concerned that people would file lawsuits about it if we didn't release the tape.

LEMON: I quote what the family says, the family says, this tape release was devious and that you're assassinating the character of their son by releasing the video attempting to smear the character of the victim and essentially blaming the victim. What do you say to that charge?

JACKSON: That's absolutely not true. I had no intent other than to comply with the freedom of information request. My heart goes out to her. I feel so terribly bad for her. It's a terrible tragedy all around.

LEMON: So everyone made the assumption that the two were connected, right, and you said the officer who shot Brown, right, Officer Darren Wilson had no idea that Brown was the person who allegedly robbed this store?

JACKSON: You know, on their initial contact, their initial contact was simply he was coming from a sick case, saw two young men walking down the street in the road blocking, you know, traffic and he pulled up and asked them to get onto the sidewalk.

And then as he passed them, you know, I guess that's what he might have seen the evidence and connected it, but his initial contact was strictly pedestrian.

LEMON: What do you mean seen the evidence?

JACKSON: There was a broadcast that went out about a stealing, and there were cigars stolen, couple boxes of cigars.

LEMON: OK, but when he initially confronted him or encountered him, it was just to get out of the road?

JACKSON: Right. LEMON: Let's talk about Darrin Wilson, 28 years old, six-year veteran of the police department, right. Have you spoken to him today since the information came out?



JACKSON: He was aware it was going to happen. As a matter of fact, he was OK with it because it was something that felt may calm things down if his name was released.

LEMON: So there some relief from him it is released or did he not want his name being released?

JACKSON: No, he didn't want his name being released, but he was OK with it if it would help.

LEMON: For people who say that you, you know, they talked about transparency. The people in the community really want transparency. They wanted the officer's name. They wanted to know how many shots or where he was shot. The people who say you waited far too long to do any of that, what do you say to them?

JACKSON: It's five, six days later and you have everything, everything, that I can release has been released. Everything you've asked for has been released. There is nothing more that I can do.

LEMON: At the press conference we watched today, you seemed to get a little flustered. Is that because you are tired or can't find words.

JACKSON: I was looking for the word inflammatory and I couldn't find it.

LEMON: I've been there on a live shot today. But what this been like for you?

JACKSON: This is tense. It's heart breaking what's happened to the community and what' happened to the family suffering that loss. This is just the worst thing I've seen in my career.

LEMON: Speaking of your career, do you think you'll keep this job?

JACKSON: That's not my decision to make. I'll stay here to make sure we work through this and I want to be part of rebuilding the community, yes, I want to stay.

LEMON: Do you think you can regain the trust of this community?

JACKSON: Yes, I do.

LEMON: And the police can, your officers?

JACKSON: Yes, I do believe that.

LEMON: Do you regret at all releasing the information, the videotape on the same day as the officer's name?

JACKSON: Well, I didn't want to release either one.

LEMON: All over again --

JACKSON: As you know. Our thinking was, if I have to release this tape, it's really going to be inflammatory if I release the tape and not the name. If I have to release the tape, we'll release the name and that was our thinking. I don't think there was any good way to do it.

LEMON: Thank you.



LEMON: In an effort to be more transparent, he is granting more interviews and Wolf, when I interviewed him earlier, I thought the most interesting thing of the day he said he had no idea of the disconnect between the African-American members of his community and the police department.

He said he had no idea of that animosity and I said you have been here for quite some time, how could you not know? Clearly, people find that to be the most disturbing aspect of this or at least one of the most disturbing aspects.

BLITZER: That's true, indeed. Don, stay with us. Don't go too far. Bring in our panel of CNN legal analysts, Mark Geragos, former George Zimmerman attorney, Mark O'Mara, criminal defense attorney, Danny Cevallos, and also with us attorney and legal affairs commentator, Areva Martin.

Mark Geragos, what do you make of this? The surveillance tape released at the same time the officer's name was released?

MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, it doesn't pass the smell test. There is no reason in the world. He keeps invoking the freedom of information act. There is nothing about the freedom of information act that says he's got to release a surveillance video on the five days later or six days later.

It's non-sense. I think the over and under on this chief keeping his job is about two weeks. He's obviously over his head and he looks to me like he's having health issues on top of it.

The idea that somehow he thought that releasing the name on the same day that he releases that tape was going to solve problems and be inflammatory shows he's tone deaf. Releasing the tape will do nothing more than decrease the distrust that the community has and I think exactly when you saw the change in kind of story that he's been telling by this officer.

You'll remember when he did his first press conference, he never mentioned the cigars or that he had heard something over the radio. This has evolved over time. You see this all the time. I'm sure Danny has seen it.

Cops tend to have these miraculous memories where they have an aha experience after they find something else that gives them a justification and it's sad. It's sad to see and it is unfortunate.

BLITZER: Areva, what do you think, no connection between Officer Wilson, the apparent crime and convenience store, do you find the timing to be suspect?

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: I find the timing to be suspect and the statement he had no knowledge of the distrust between the African-American community and his police department. That is an absurd and outrageous statement.

I grew up not very far from that community. It is well-known that community has a huge issue, the African-American community, the number of traffic stops. The number of arrests, all disproportionate to white citizens and to not communicate to Ron Johnson.

The highway patrolman that was able to calm the protesters and start to build some trust, he didn't even communicate with Mr. Johnson or the governor that he was going to release this inflammatory information. I don't think we can believe anything he's saying.

BLITZER: Mark O'Mara, he said he thought Brown might be a suspect when he saw cigars. It looks like the story keeps changing, at least a lot of folks think so.

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We have to put this in context, Wolf. This is 25 percent shooting investigation now and now 75 percent racially charged cultural event, and anyone who will be involved from the media to law enforcement have to understand that and react to it.

When he comes out and says for some reason it is necessary today to release that tape, it was absurd, it was insensitive and suggests that he at least for the time being shouldn't be in charge of any decisions regarding how this has to be viewed as the national event that it's become.

The shooting investigation is going to go on. That takes time. I like the idea of federal government being involved to have it take the time. We shouldn't rush to judgment on any of this. We shouldn't let out snippets of information. This is cultural event we have to deal with or we will not get progress.

BLITZER: Danny, we will never know what was going through Michael Brown's when Officer Wilson stopped him, but Brown just allegedly robbed that store. That could, at least a lot of analysts have been saying that could have been an aggravated factor in an altercation if there was that until the end left brown dead, is that right?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think so. The story changed so much in the last 24 hours. Let's deal with the most present asser assertion, that he was aware of a robbery and stopped Brown when he was walking in the middle of the street. Now like it or not, the law is that even a municipal violation and I looked at Ferguson, they have a jaywalking violation, that will get the officer to the stop. From there, if he saw the cigars and actually believed they were part of the robbery, then he's allowed to investigate the robbery. And then we're just going to have a make a credibility determination.

Because one thing I can tell you, we haven't heard from the officer yet but Mark Garegos and O'Mara, I think will agree with me that I can promise you, his version of the story will be nothing like the other eyewitness' version of the story.

It's just the way of the business. I don't know where the truth lies, somewhere in the middle, but it will be completely different than what we have heard from Michael Brown's friends and eye witnesses to the event. Where the truth lies, we may never know.

BLITZER: Don, let me bring you back into this conversation. Clearly the fact that this 18-year-old appears to have committed a robbery at a convenience store has not changed anything for a lot of the people where you are in Ferguson, that hasn't changed their attitude at all, has it?

LEMON: It has not changed their attitude at all, but I do have to be honest. It's not a 100 percent monolific group. There are people at the protest here in Ferguson who will say if you want transparency, you have to accept what that is. You cannot say we want information released and then when the information is released, if you don't like it, turn around and say you should not have released that information.

BLITZER: Good point, hold on, hold on for a moment. I want to take a quick break. We'll continue this important conversation right after this.


BLITZER: Let's get back to the panel now. Before the break, Don Lemon was asking about transparency, expectations, they should be prepared for uncomfortable facts. We want to get a quick comment from all of you on that, Danny, first to you.

CEVALLOS: Yes, I thought for so long with law enforcement to get records, to me, some days, ten days feels like pretty good, but in a case like this, maybe they should have got than out sooner. Yesterday we had nothing we were upset. Now we have something and it seems like we're upset again. At least we have something today that we didn't have yesterday.

BLITZER: Mark Geragos?

GERAGOS: My reaction is why is the police narrative evolving, so to speak? That's a charitable word evolving.

BLITZER: Mark O'Mara.

O'MARA: The dynamic will be found out, what will come in both sides of it, but it will fail in comparison to what happened in those 15 to 20 seconds and forensics will rule the day as to what shows up.

BLITZER: Areva, some experts have suggested that even if the police officer who did the shooting and killed Michael Brown, even if he didn't know about it, Michael Brown knew that he had been involved in something at that convenience store.

And maybe he assumed when he was stopped by the police officer he was about to be arrested and that could have triggered his behavior, if in fact, with the police officer probably will say is that he resisted arrest, went after his gun, that could be relevant, right?

MARTIN: Could be relevant, but I think the more important point is this young man was shot 35 feet away from the car and eyewitnesses said he threw his hands up and said I'm unarmed and plead with this police officer not to shoot him. I don't think there will be any explanation that will exonerate the police officer in light of that testimony.

BLITZER: Danny Cevalos, if you were representing that police officer, let's say he's charged with homicide, what would you argument be?

CEVALLOS: We don't have enough information yet, Wolf, and I'm not trying to punt on that. We don't know what his statement is. We had eyewitness testimony, which is very helpful but we just can't know until the investigation is complete and that's the way it is going to go in this case.

BLITZER: What about you Mark Geragos?

GERAGOS: I think clearly what is going to be defense here and I don't know that you're going to need a defense. I think now with the video and the way the officer's testimony or the police narrative has evolved, they are just going to say look, you saw the guy push a shopkeeper.

When I stopped him, I saw the cigars, I put two and two together. When I told him to stop and open the door, he pushed against me. When he pushed, he tried to reach for my weapon and that's when I fired and I chased him. I thought he was armed.

I saw him reach for something I bet will be one of his statements and that's going to be the end of that and depending on whoever the charging authority turns out to be, I would be hard pressed if the feds are ever going to bring this case and it will depend on whether the DA wants to bring it or prosecuting attorney wants to bring it.

BLITZER: Mark O'Mara, a case where you're defending the police officer, right?

O'MARA: Absolutely. And this has to be a justifiable use of deadly force defense, that's all he has. When he pulled that gun out, he has to be in imminent or reasonable fear of great bodily injury, and if he has that in his mind and the facts support it, he's not guilty because it's justified.

And if he doesn't, he has to explain why he put three or four extra shots in somebody if in fact at that point he wasn't in immediate or imminent fear of great bodily injury. That's the law and that will be the case.

BLITZER: Even if he was in fear earlier, once Michael Brown puts his hands up in the air and gives up, there is no excuse, you can't shoot. You can't fire anymore bullets, right?

O'MARA: Each shot has to be justified by the reasonable fear of great bodily injury, and each -- literally, each shot, the frenzy of five shots, it doesn't matter. If he's shooting after he gets out of the car, that fear has to be reasonable by a reasonable person standard and it will be difficult when he's the only one with a gun.

BLITZER: There are eyewitnesses. All right, guys, thanks very much.

Just ahead, the man who is being credited with bringing calm to the streets of Ferguson, Captain Ron Johnson. Jason Carroll went on patrol with him today to see how he's keeping the peace.


BLITZER: Just ahead, the man who is credited with bringing calm to the streets of ferguson. Captain ron johnson. Jason carroll went on patrol with him today to see how he's keeping the peace.


BLITZER: As we've said, the last 36 hours have been relatively calm in Ferguson, Missouri thanks in part many are saying to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson. His manner and tactics are keeping the peace. Jason Carroll has more.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a veteran, but some might call this night, Captain Ronald Johnson's first night on the job.

CAPTAIN RONALD JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: Don't expect any issues, but just in case there are issues, some parties may get unruly and we need to get out, I'll call you to come.

CARROLL: Captain Johnson took our crew with him on one of the first assignments.

(on camera): Put your assessment of how things have gone so far tonight?

JOHNSON: I think they have gone fine. I think they have gone well. I think we have to continue to assess it and monitor it.

CARROLL: And then came time to meet the demonstrators.

JOHNSON: This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to take a chance. I'm going to have you guys turn around and go back to McDonalds and I'll call you when I need you. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I appreciate you, sir.

CARROLL (voice-over): No tear gas, no riot gear, instead call it street diplomacy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love everyone.

CAROLL (on camera): So is this the type of reception you expected to receive when you came down here?


CARROLL (voice-over): While there were plenty of hugs and handshakes, there were tough questions, too.

JOHNSON: Are you doing all right?


JOHNSON: Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, sir, why was the officer able to leave the scene of the crime?

JOHNSON: They are not allowed to leave the scene. They took him back for questioning. That's normal. You know what? I'm tired, too, and we going to get it right. I've lived here 42 years.

CARROLL: What do you make of this crowd, these people around you, surrounding you like this in this way supporting you?

JOHNSON: Their voice is being heard. Bottom line is that is what they want. These people live in this community. I've lived here 48 hours of my life. I know we got good people.

CARROLL (voice-over): Johnson says his approach is and always has been an honest one.

JOHNSON: I just found this out a few hours ago I would be in this job. I'll be back tonight, if I'm not back tonight, I'll be back tomorrow and that's a promise.


BLITZER: That's Jason Carroll reporting. That does it for this hour. Don Lemon takes over the next hour of 360 right after this.