A St. Louis Post-Dispatch crime reporter whose tweet about Ferguson last week went viral has clarified that her tweet is personal and she is currently not representing the newspaper as she is in fact on unrelated leave.
The reporter, Christine Byers – who said she had learned through an inside police source that nearly a dozen witnesses corroborated the preliminary account given by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson that unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown had physically attacked the cop before he was fatally shot – said she has been on a family and medical unpaid leave from the newspaper since March. She also said her earlier tweet posted had not met the standards of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
On FMLA from paper. Earlier tweets did not meet standards for publication.
— Christine Byers (@ChristineDByers) Aug. 19
Byers tweeted on Aug. 18 that "Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop's version of events in shooting. #Ferguson." However, an unclear follow-up tweet from Byers the next day regarding her leave, had some speculating that she was placed on leave for the aforementioned tweet regarding the Michael Brown case.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch issued the following statement clarifying her situation: "Christine Byers is a police reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and has been on FMLA leave since March. She is not involved in the Ferguson coverage while she is on leave. Her tweets are personal."
— Colin Campbell (@BKcolin) Aug. 19
Although Byers' tweet led to several news reports and over 2,000 retweets, The Post-Dispatch itself has yet to report on such police sources confirming that a dozen witnesses have corroborated Wilson's claims that he was attacked.
Despite clarification by the Post-Dispatch about Byers' bombshell tweet, the picture of what really occurred in Ferguson on that fateful Aug. 9 doesn't look much clearer at the moment.
There is still the anonymous rundown of the events of the incident by a woman, "Josie", who claims to be friends with Wilson's "significant other" and called into the The Dana Show. Josie's testimony states that Brown had prevented Wilson from getting out of his car, punched him in the face, started to run away, then later charged at the officer, which eventually resulted in him being fatally shot. Josie's account matches that of the statement given by St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.
Then there are at least five witnesses who either live on the street where the shooting occurred, or happened to be on the street at the time, who have claimed that Brown did not attack the officer and that he was either surrendering or had his hands up before the fatal shot to the top of his head was fired.
Tiffany Mitchell told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell that she was driving past the incident on her way to pick up her employee who lives right by where the altercation took place. She got out of her car and parked 10 to 20 feet from where the police cruiser was parked when she noticed a cop wrestling with somebody through the window of his car. By her account, Brown had not assaulted the officer and wasn't trying to steal the officer's gun, but trying to escape free from the officer. Brown successfully broke free after the first shot went off with Wilson still inside his car.
As Brown and his friend ran away, Mitchell said Wilson chased after Brown while firing at the same time.
"The officer gets out of his vehicle and pursues him. As he is following him, he is shooting at him. Michael's body jerks as if he was hit. He turns around and puts his hands up," Mitchell told O'Donnell. "The officer continues to walk up on him and shooting him until he goes all the way to the ground."
At least four others, including key eyewitness and Brown's friend Dorian Johnson, said that Brown was not charging the officer.
The general sense of witness confusion revolving around what exactly took place in the shooting of Brown, can best be seen in a YouTube video that was shot in the aftermath of the shooting while Brown's body was still laying on the street.
Although the first few minutes of the video have a few Ferguson residents claiming that Brown was shot for no reason, one man in audio range of the camera claimed to have witnessed Brown charging back towards the officer after the officer started his pursuit once Brown got away.
"Then the next thing I know he doubled back toward him because the police had his gun drawn already on him," the man said.
In reply to the camera man's remarks of "Oh, police had his gun," the witness replied by saying "The police kept dumping on him, and I'm thinking the police kept missing – He like, be like – but he kept coming toward him."
At about the 6:30 mark in the video BELOW, is when a conversation between the so-called witness and cameraman took place.