Dorian Johnson, 22, told MSNBC Tuesday that he and Michael Brown were walking down the street when an officer pulled up to them and demanded they “get the f— on the sidewalk” last Saturday.
Johnson is the closest witness to the altercation between Brown and an officer that led to the 18-year-old’s shooting death down just two days before he was to start college.
Johnson said he and Brown told the police officer, whose name has not been released, that they were close to their destination and then attempted to continue toward Johnson’s apartment nearby.
By Johnson’s account, the officer then reversed his car toward them asking them to repeat what they said while pushing his car door open. He then grabbed Brown by the neck and the two engaged in a “tug of war,” which Johnson claims consisted of the officer pulling on Brown’s shirt as Brown attempted to pull away.
It was then that Johnson saw the officer pull out his gun and shoot Brown in his right side. He then released Brown who took off running along with Johnson, who managed to duck behind a row of cars before seeing Brown get shot a second time in the back.
Johnson said Brown stopped running, turned around with his hands up in the air and said, ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’ However, the officer still shot Brown several more times.
“After seeing my friend get gunned down, my body just ran,” said Johnson, who retreated to his apartment following Brown’s killing.
Johnson said he returned to the scene five minutes later and saw Brown dead in the middle of the street surrounded by a growing crowd of neighbors who were shouting and taking photos with their cell phones.
Johnson’s eyewitness account is crucial in an investigation where no police car dash camera was used, and one involved party cannot defend himself because he is dead. But according to Johnson’s attorney, former mayor of St. Louis, Freeman Bosley, Jr., the Ferguson police have declined Johnson’s offer to speak to them.
The FBI is assisting in the investigation and looking into possible civil rights violations in the shooting of Brown.