Got News filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County court today to obtain the juvenile arrest records of Michael Brown after the court denied his request. Brown was killed in a controversial altercation with Officer Darren Wilson.
Got News editor-in-chief Charles C. Johnson was told by two different law enforcement sources from St. Louis that Brown had a juvenile arrest record but that that report has been kept from the public.
There are rumors that Brown was also a member of the Crips, a notorious gang and that his death may have even brought two gangs—the Crips and the Bloods—together.
To find out if those police officers are correct requires seeing Brown’s juvenile arrest record, which ought to be freely available given that he is dead and therefore has no right to privacy remaining. Press reports say that Brown has no “adult arrest record” but how could he have one? He was only eighteen for a few months.
Knowing the truth about Brown’s past will help us gauge the credibility of his parents and family who have called him a “gentle giant.” Brown’s strong-arm robbery of a shopkeeper would seem to put the lie to this narrative but it remains. Brown’s friends—who have changed their story already—are similarly untrustworthy in the accounts they have given.
The only thing that we do have is the public record but unfortunately the St. Louis County court doesn’t want it released. It’s irresponsible to keep that information from the public if it changes the public’s mind of the character of Michael Brown.
It’s especially irresponsible given what’s happening in Ferguson.
Never mind that a police officer has been forced to flee the state. Never mind that there has been a riot going on where people from across the country have threatened that officer’s life. Never mind that a CNN reporter has all but drawn a map to officer Darren Wilson’s home.
Got News is always going to stand against lawlessness in favor of justice.
There are also serious questions of racial equality around the release of deceased juveniles’ records in the state of Missouri.
Got News’s lawyer, John C. Burns, compared the suit to Smith v. Harold’s Supermarket, a 1984 case whose facts seem eerily to the Ferguson shooting.
William L. Halstead, a white, 18-year-old stole a packet of cigarettes. A security guard beat him so hard he broke his neck, became paralyzed, and died 19 days later. Halstead’s juvenile arrest record was released as part of a wrongful death suit filed by his family, much to their protestation.
It went to the appellate court held and then stopped. Later the Missouri Supreme Court adopted the appellate court’s reasoning in a case in 1990 (State v. Mahurin).
Apparently, the records of dead blacks cannot be released but those of dead whites may be—at least according to the St. Louis County.
What could be more racist?