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​How Michael Brown’s Friend Described His Death to the Ferguson Grand Jury

It started just like any other morning for Dorian Johnson. His plans were to ask his daughter what she wanted to eat for breakfast and go get high.

by Allie Conti
Nov 25 2014, 10:26pm

Cigarillos like the ones Michael Brown reportedly stole from the store. Photo via Flickr user ​Marcus Walker

Thee following is closely adapted from the testimony Dorian Johnson gave to the Ferguson grand jury, which last night declined to indict officer Darren Wilson.

It started just like any other morning for Dorian Johnson. His plans were to ask his daughter what she wanted to eat for breakfast and then go get high. On the way to Ferguson Market, though, he ran into an acquaintance he quite liked. Michael Brown, who was only 18 to Johnson's 22, was something like a younger brother to him. Although they'd only met about three months before, Johnson thought the kid was the kind of guy he could trust around his family. He was quiet and kept to himself, and he also liked to smoke.

The two agreed to smoke weed together, and Brown joined the quest to procure cigarillos, presumably to roll a blunt. They shot the shit for a while about girls and clothes, although Brown also asked his older companion for advice on living a comfortable life. Johnson, who was wearing pajama pants and holding cash in his shoes, had escaped a life of gang violence to rent his own apartment with a live-in girlfriend.

"Basically our conversation was on future, future emphasis," he told the grand jury.

When they got to the store, Brown unceremoniously walked to the counter and grabbed a box of 69-cent cigarillos—Johnson estimates the box was worth about $30 or $40. When the clerk didn't react, the 18-year-old grabbed a few loose ones too. The proprietor tried to block Brown from walking out the door but was easily brushed away by the 6'4" giant.

Johnson was shocked. After all, his friend always dressed well, so it was weird that he didn't have money. And since he had literally just asked for advice on building a decent life, it seemed out of character for him to rob a local store. "I'm going to call the police," the robbery victim apparently said as the two headed back to the apartment complex.

It was about a four- or five-minute walk home, and Johnson tried to process what had just happened. He panicked when a car headed toward them, but breathed a sigh of relief when it drove past the store for the neighboring McDonald's on West Florissant.

They hadn't decided whose house to go smoke at when Darren Wilson approached them in his police cruiser. "Get the fuck out of the street," he yelled at the pair, who for whatever reason had eschewed the sidewalk. Johnson explained they were "a minute" away from their destination and the cop drove off. But within a second, rubber was burning on the pavement, and Johnson had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit by the rapidly reversing cop car. "What did you say?" the officer asked Brown, although he allegedly had said nothing.

Brown and Johnson were standing right next to the officer's driver's side door. When Darren Wilson tried to get out it smacked them and closed right back— boom boom!

So Wilson grabbed Brown with his left hand through the window. "He had a real good grip on him," Johnson recalled. In order to break free of the hand on his throat, Brown leveraged one hand on top of the cruiser and another near its side window. The cop and the kid were cussing at each other and engaged in a "tug of war," as Johnson explained to the grand jury.

Johnson was paralyzed with fear by the time Brown handed him the cigarillos. "That's where I'm like, this doesn't happen every day, something is out of order here." By that time, three cars were waiting behind the traffic-blocking cruiser.

When he heard the words, "I'll shoot," Johnson assumed the cop meant a Taser. When he saw the barrel of a gun, he could barely breathe. "He was going to say, 'I'll shoot,' again," Johnson explained. "He didn't finish the sentence. The gun went off."

After Brown was hit, the officer released his grip. Johnson stopped and ducked behind the first of the cars blocked in by the cruiser. "Can you please take me home? I stay in the same complex," he pleaded to the driver, who responded by driving up on the sidewalk and away from the scene.

Meanwhile, Brown made it past the third car with the officer in pursuit. Another shot was fired, which caused his body to jerk and then stop running. He turned around weakly, his hand half in the air as he coped with his wounds. "I don't have a gun," Johnson remembers his friend saying. "And before he can say the second sentence or before he can even get it out, that's when several more shots came."

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