Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later


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Wilson, who had just assisted a mother whose infant was having difficulty breathing, decided that if the robbery trail was cold he would continue on to lunch. Brown was at a precarious juncture in his life. When he was twelve, his parents had split up. At first, he had lived with his mother, Lesley McSpadden, but by the age of sixteen he had moved in with his father, Michael Brown, Sr. Brown had struggled academically, and had switched schools several times.

He was six feet five and weighed nearly three hundred pounds, and, because of his size, people often thought he was older than he was. Brown, Sr. Brown had just graduated from Normandy High School, where he had participated in an alternative-education program. Now summer was ending, and he had decisions to make. And that should make you scared. For many of the students at Normandy, Foster said, attending college is not a possibility. At home, these students are often told that, once school ends, they must earn their keep. Foster grew up near Ferguson, in Velda Village Hills.

When his family moved there, in , it was among the first black families in town. By the mid-seventies, the neighborhood was almost entirely black. Back then, there were jobs and two-parent families, and this created stability. Many of them believe, rightly or wrongly, that their father is innocent, and this inevitably shapes how young people in Ferguson view the police.

This context, Foster says, helps provide a clearer picture of where Brown came from, and who his peers were. The image of Brown that many people have was shaped by the surveillance video from Ferguson Market and Liquor. In that footage, we see Brown take several packages of cigarillos, then head toward the door.

A clerk tries to stop him, but Brown easily shoves him aside. Wilson was heading west on Canfield Drive, his window open, in his department-issued Chevrolet Tahoe. He spotted Brown and Johnson, and called out to them to use the sidewalk.

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After calling for backup, Wilson parked his vehicle at an angle, barricading the roadway. According to Kevin Ahlbrand, the president of the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, parking a police car in this manner is a common maneuver—a car in the street offers a cop protection in the event of a gunfight.

After stopping his car, Wilson tried to open his door, but Brown blocked his way. It is impossible to know what Brown and Wilson then said to each other—or why the situation escalated so quickly. At this point, Wilson told investigators, his training kicked in and he reviewed his options. He did not carry a Taser, so the weapons at his disposal were mace, a retractable baton, and his gun. The only one readily accessible, Wilson said, was the gun.

When he unholstered it, he told investigators, Brown reached for it. This sequence of events has factual support. It was the first time that Wilson had used his gun in the line of duty. Wilson chased him. Brown ran at least a hundred and eighty feet down Canfield Drive—his blood was found in the roadway—and then headed back toward Wilson.

According to the Justice Department, eyewitnesses claiming that Brown raised his hands in surrender proved unreliable. According to Wilson, he repeatedly ordered Brown to stop and get on the ground. Brown, who was unarmed, kept moving. At one point, Wilson told investigators, Brown put his right hand into his waistband, as if reaching for a weapon. Sometime after the chase began, Wilson shot ten bullets at Brown. A few missed him, but he was hit in the chest, the forehead, and the arm.

Autopsy reports indicate that, contrary to initial media reports, no bullets hit Brown in the back. Academics have studied whether cops exhibit racial bias when deciding whether to pull the trigger. Joshua Correll, at the University of Colorado Boulder, has done more than twenty studies on this topic. In , Correll created a video game in which participants view images of armed and unarmed men—some black, some white. Participants must make rapid decisions about whether to shoot.

Initially, Correll tested civilians—college students, mainly—and found that they were quicker to shoot black suspects than white suspects. They also were more likely to shoot unarmed suspects when those suspects were black. When Correll had police officers do the test, the results were more ambiguous. Officers, like civilians, were significantly quicker to shoot black suspects than white suspects; but cops showed no bias when shooting unarmed suspects by mistake.


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Correll believes that this is a result of the training that cops receive. Brown collapsed after being shot. At p. The body remained on the hot asphalt for four hours. As one local told the St. She was at work when the shooting occurred. Her roommate called to report that someone had just been shot dead. Webb rushed home. She pushed through onlookers and discovered that the victim was her cousin. Brown was three years younger than she was, and they had seen each other the previous week.

Wilson went to the hospital with his superiors, and debriefed them while he was examined for injuries. He returned to the station, and he and Barb headed home. And then you come back.


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  • This is kind of what we signed up for. Later that night, however, they turned on the television and watched live coverage of unrest in Ferguson. What are they doing? Was he a bad guy? Soon after the shooting, Wilson called Mike McCarthy and gave him an account of what had happened. Around the same time, he was involved in a shootout with an armed suspect, and he knew that such experiences were chaotic.

    McCarthy, who was moonlighting as a policeman in a North County town, answered a call about a domestic disturbance. He showed me a video of the incident. When McCarthy arrived on the scene, a black man in his twenties opened fire on him and another officer. The other cop was hit. The shooter sped off in his car. McCarthy got back into his car, letting out a strange, adrenaline-filled whoop. He pursued the shooter. Fortunately, the officer was unhurt; the bullet had been stopped by the Taser on his utility belt.

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    Louis for good, then reconsidered. Louis Airport. From the parking lot, he had a clear view of Interstate Aldridge, who was twenty at the time, had grown up in the impoverished Fifth Ward of St. Louis, but he was a homebody and spent little time on the streets. Many of his friends were white and Jewish. On August 11th, he drove there with a friend.

    Aldridge talked with residents, gathering firsthand accounts of what had happened. A few days later, he returned and watched, horrified, as looters ransacked a store. He and several others formed a raggedy line of defense. In subsequent weeks, Aldridge returned often to Ferguson, participating in protests that he hoped would peacefully bring change. Initially, he gave the police the benefit of the doubt. Within the past year alone, the media has highlighted many examples of police brutality in which the facts strongly resemble the type of story that Johnson told—from the fatal choking of Eric Garner, on Staten Island, to the fatal shootings of Walter Scott, in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Samuel Dubose, in Cincinnati.

    It was hard not to notice a parallel: both Aldridge and Wilson had turned to the report that buttressed their own world view. It was as if the two Justice Department reports had come to present opposing realities. Legitimate questions linger about the shooting. If Brown was unprovoked, why did he reach into the police car and punch Wilson in the face?

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    Why did Wilson fire ten shots? Kinnie recounted a story of walking toward a park, with his younger brother. A police officer pulled up in his car and told them to get on the ground. Kinnie complied and told his brother to do the same. The officer was apparently searching for some suspects. If the police generally acted in a racist and abusive manner, why give Wilson the benefit of the doubt?

    In May, I posed this question to Brittany Ferrell and Alexis Templeton—a charismatic black couple who are two of the most visible activists in Ferguson. One afternoon this spring, Ferrell and Templeton joined a protest in Ferguson. At the time, people were marching in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, and the mood in Ferguson was tense. So if you want the pit to move faster, you go uptempo, right? Now the new bands are almost going to dub step, right?

    Dub step moves differently. You're getting influenced by different ways it happens. I went and saw Killswitch Engage, and they was dope, but they were singing, and then they would go hard. I'm not a good enough vocalist for that, so we gotta get by with my style, which is kind of yellin' [ laughs ]. But effective. How do you think it differs from previous Body Count albums? I think this one is as good as the first one. We went back to the original formula, of all of us getting together and gettin' into a room and writing the songs together. Ya know, I was away from the game, and this gives me a chance to get back hungry, gives me a chance to get some ideas in your head about what you wanna talk about.

    We also were teamed up with one of the best producers out there: Will Putney, he gave us a really good, solid-sounding record. A lot of bands are really good but they lose it in the studio. S o I think all those things came together. We got a good label behind us that let us do what we do. It just came together, and I'm very proud of it. Well, I think the kick with the label is, when you sign to a label, they have a job to do, they have to put me on the phone with you.

    They have to handle things I'm incapable of handling. I think also they just believed in the band. And I didn't wanna make another record unless I had the full support system together. I just want somebody who understands the band. And Sumerian was with it. And they gave us the money to go in and take the time. They didn't put a time limit on the album. They gave us everything we needed to do this record. On some songs, it bought me back to old-school U.

    I just wanted to sit back in my chair and play a little Xbox [ laughs ]. He was just ranting about his parents not understanding what he was going through. And Suicidal was really the first West Coast band that kind of embraced the real street culture. They kind of looked a little bit like gang-bangers, and skaters.

    Suicidal was always known to have the crazy fans and they kind of ended up being Body Count fans as we came along. So I had to find the things that ticked me off in my daily life, and kind of just rewrote the song using the same hook, and it worked. And I'm in a lot of games.

    I love that s I stopped playing PlayStation because Xbox started giving me free consoles -- so sorry, I sold out [ laughs hard ]. I always say, free that's for me, and I'll take three [ laughs ]. We kind of like wanted to make drama more real, so now you take Body Count, and to get to understand it 20 years in the game: Body Count is grindhouse, the album covers are grindhouse. It's ultraviolent, it's ultravsexual, to the point of humor.

    It's just too far-fetched to be taken serious. And remember even back in the day when we were doing "Cop Killer," and I was like, "you guys are taking this record a little too serious. So "Talk S, Get Shot" is kind of like my feeling on bloggers and people who talk s on the Internet, and I think we all wish we could just reach through the screen, like I did in the video, and snatch a motherf [ laughs ].

    We can't in real life, so Body Count does it. It's fantasy. And there's so much fantasy. I mean, did I really have sex with a KKK bitch? Did I really meet a voodoo lady that had a voodoo doll, like on the new album? Did i really have sex in a graveyard with a woman with a knife? It's intentionally pushed way over the top.

    And here's the monkey wrench. Occassionly I get serious. And that's what throws people the f off. When you listen to "Back to Rehab,' that's dead serious. So [ laughs ], it's an intelligent man's record, you gotta think. Since Body Count's early material, what's happened to music? I mean the world has just become very delusional.

    And the kids, the generation now, we're leaving in a generation of jaded youth. So the parents had to fight, and the parents fought, and they made a better world, and the kids kinda grew up to be a bunch of little brats.

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    After a lengthy legal argument, the Secretary of State for Scotland referred the case to the appeal court, granting Campbell and Steele interim freedom pending its outcome. The appeal failed. The three appeal judges reached a split decision on whether the fresh evidence relating to Love's testimony and relating to a potentially exculpatory statement made to the police by Love's sister, which had not been disclosed to the defence at the trial would have significantly affected the outcome of the original trial, and thus should be heard.

    Campbell and Steele were returned to prison. The legal fight continued. A further petition was presented to the Scottish Secretary asking for the case to be referred back to the Court of Appeal. Donald Dewar refused to refer the case, because he did not "believe that they present[ed] grounds for a referral of the case to the appeal court". Solicitors for Campbell and Steele then took the case to the then newly created Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which took up the case. The Commission first requested and received material from the Crown Office. It then went to court to obtain further Crown paperwork relating to the case, including government correspondence.

    The Crown fought against the release of the paperwork, on the grounds that the Commission had not justified it gaining access to the paperwork and that the papers were in the same category as paperwork that the Commission had already been denied access to by Scottish Executive's Justice Department. Lord Clarke ruled in favour of the Commission being granted access to the paperwork, stating that "The commission [has] a statutory obligation to carry out a full, independent and impartial investigation into alleged miscarriages of justice" and that "Legislation under which [it acts] was clearly designed to give the widest powers to perform that duty.

    The Commission decided that the case should be referred back to the appeal court. Three years later, the appeal was heard by the appeal court, and it succeeded. Lord Gill, Lord MacLean, and Lord Macfadyan quashed the convictions as a result of hearing new evidence and because of what they stated to be significant misdirection of the jury by the judge at the original trial.

    The new evidence, which was not contradicted by the Crown, was from Brian Clifford, a professor of cognitive psychology , who testified that the recollection of Campbell's statement by the four police officers at the time of the original trial was "too exact", centering on an identical word phrase which featured in every account: "I only wanted the van windaes shot up. The fire at Fat Boy's was only meant to be a frightener which went too far.

    He stated that these results "strongly suggested that it was not at all likely" that the officers would be able to record Campbell's statement "in such similar terms" without having compared or collaborated on their accounts [13]. The appeal judges concluded that "any jury hearing Prof. Clifford's evidence would have assessed the evidence of the arresting police officers in an entirely different light" and that the evidence "is of such significance that the verdicts of the jury, having been returned in ignorance of it, must be regarded as miscarriages of justice ".

    The original trial judge, Lord Kincraig , who had told Campbell and Steele in court at the original trial that he regarded them as "vicious and dangerous men", at that point in his 80s and having been retired for 18 years, spoke out against the ruling of the appeal court days afterward, stating that he could not "accept there was a conspiracy among the police".

    At the original trial he had instructed the jury that to believe Campbell and Steele's assertions was to accept that "not one or two or four but a large number of detectives have deliberately come here to perjure themselves, to build up a false case against an accused person" and to accept the implication that there had been a conspiracy by police officers of the "most sinister and serious kind" to "saddle the accused wrongly with the crimes of murder and attempted murder, and a murder of a horrendous nature".


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    • After the convictions were quashed, he criticised the appeal court for "[usurping] the function of the jury" in that "[t]he function of the jury is to decide questions of fact not law" and that the appeal court "seem[s] to have said that evidence is not believable, which is the jury's province. That's a decision in fact. The court of appeal has decided in fact the jury was wrong. Campbell called for a fresh investigation of the murder of the Doyle family, accusing Tam McGraw both of the original murders and of instigating a campaign over 20 years to ensure that Campbell remained in jail and was silenced, including repeated attempts on Campbell's life.

      But commentators considered it unlikely that a fresh investigation would be launched as a result of the convictions being quashed and the fresh evidence that had been presented since the original trial. This was in part because claims by Campbell against a man whom he is regarded as hating are viewed with scepticism his stabbing in was believed at the time to be part of a long running tit-for-tat feud between the two men , and in part because two police officers who had been heavily involved in the case had since died: Detective Superintendent Norrie Walker in and Detective Chief Superintendent Charles Craig, head of the Criminal Investigation Department at the time of the murders, in Thomas "TC" Campbell died in June

      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later
      Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later Ice Fought the Law: Cop Killer 20 Years Later

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