A Body in the Street

UnknownDateline: New York Times — Ferguson, Mo. 

AUG. 23, 2014

“Just after noon on Saturday, Aug. 9, Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer… For about four hours, in the unrelenting summer sun, his body remained where he fell.

“Neighbors were horrified by the gruesome scene: Mr. Brown, 18, face down in the middle of the street, blood streaming from his head. They ushered their children into rooms that faced away from Canfield Drive. They called friends and local news stations to tell them what had happened. They posted on Twitter and Facebook and recorded shaky cellphone videos that would soon make their way to the national news.

“[L]ocal officials say that the image of Mr. Brown’s corpse in the open set the scene for what would become a combustible worldwide story of police tactics and race in America, and left some of the officials asking why.

“’The delay helped fuel the outrage,’ said Patricia Bynes, a committeewoman in Ferguson. ‘It was very disrespectful to the community and the people who live there. It also sent the message from law enforcement that ‘we can do this to you any day, any time, in broad daylight, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’

“Two weeks after Mr. Brown’s death, interviews with law enforcement officials and a review of police logs make clear that a combination of factors, some under police control and some not, contributed to the time lapse in removing his body…

“For part of the time, Mr. Brown’s body lay in the open, allowing people to record it on their cellphones. A white sheet was draped over Mr. Brown’s body, but his feet remained exposed and blood could still be seen. The police later shielded the body with a low, six-panel orange partition typically used for car crashes.

“Experts in policing said there was no standard for how long a body should remain at a scene, but they expressed surprise at how Mr. Brown’s body had been allowed to remain in public view…

For the rest of the story, CLICK HERE.

To view the video “Timeline for a Body,” CLICK HERE.

Here’s some questions for police leaders:

  1. How important do you think it is on a chaotic and emotionally-packed street crime scene as this to respectfully cover the victim’s body?
  2. How soon could this have been done without compromising the crime scene and hindering investigators?
  3. What about beginning a dialogue with the crowd? How soon should that have occurred?
  4. What other actions could be taken at the scene to relieve the anger and tension in the assembled crowd?