New Ferguson video casting doubt on 'robbery' sparks protests

Image copyright Stranger Fruit Image caption The video is unclear, but a filmmaker believes Brown's death was due to a marijuana deal gone wrong

A newly disclosed surveillance video from the hours before a black man's death in Ferguson at the hands of police has triggered fresh protests.

A filmmaker has released the footage which he says shows Michael Brown did not rob a shop, as police claimed, but instead exchanged marijuana for cigars.

Video released soon after Brown's death in 2014 shows him threatening a shopkeeper as he walks out with cigars.

The 18-year-old was moments later shot dead by a police officer.

Darren Wilson was cleared of wrongdoing at a trial but the teenager's death in Ferguson, Missouri, led to violent protests and a national debate about lethal police force against African Americans.

On Sunday night, 100 people gathered outside the shop after news emerged of the new video footage.

The previously unreported footage shows Brown entering the Ferguson Market and Liquor around 01:00 on the day of his death.

He approaches the counter and hands over an item that appears to be a brown bag, and in exchange takes a shopping bag filled with cigars.

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After walking towards the door, he then turns around and returns the cigars to the counter before leaving.

Image copyright AFP Image caption A temporary memorial marks the location where Brown was shot (file image)

Jason Pollock, the filmmaker releasing the tape as part of his documentary Stranger Fruit, says it proves that Brown had not been committing a strong-arm robbery when he returned to that store around noon later in the day.

In that encounter, he is seen shoving store owner Andy Patel before leaving with the cigars.

Video of Brown appearing to rob the shop was released by police to support their claim that he was stopped by police because he was a suspect.

Media captionCCTV pictures show a alleged robbery that took place minutes before Michael Brown was shot

Mr Pollock's film claims that the marijuana was exchanged as part of a pre-negotiated deal, and that Brown had then decided to leave the cigars behind the shop counter for safekeeping.

"They destroyed Michael's character with the tape, and they didn't show us what actually happened," Mr Pollock told the New York Times.

"There was some type of exchange, for one thing, for another," says Lesley McSpadden, Brown's mother, in the new film, which is debuting at the South by Southwest festival in Austin.

Media captionThe BBC's Aleem Maqbool describes the "extraordinary scenes" in Missouri after state police took charge of security

Jay Kanzler, a lawyer for the convenience shop, said he would release more footage to prove it was a robbery.

"There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn't sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back."


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