New video footage has emerged of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown which appears to question the claim by police that he had robbed a convenience store shortly before he was shot dead by a white officer.
Filmmaker Jason Pollock, who obtained the footage, claims that it shows that the 18-year-old’s altercation with store employees in a later visit to the shop, was tied to a suspected drug transaction with staff in the store.
“There was an understanding, and that’s what you are going to see in that video,” the teenager’s mother, Lezley McSpadden says in a new documentary by Mr Pollock. “There was some type of exchange for one thing, for another.”
The shooting of the unarmed black Missouri teenager in August 2014, sparked widespread protests, some of which turned violent. It also triggered a national debate abut the way some police treated black and minority suspects, and helped draw attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Officials have insisted that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, feared for his life and acted appropriately when he shot and killed the teenager.
Mr Brown, who has since left the force, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a county grand jury and federal civil rights investigators.
Mr Pollock, whose documentary Strange Fruit, premiered at the South by Southwest festival over the weekend in Austin, Texas, claimed that the Ferguson police force has tried to smear the dead teenager’s reputation by claiming he had robbed a store and releasing footage purporting to show that to the media.
The filmmaker said the new footage, never previously seen by the public, puts the “altercation” shown in the police video in a new context.
In the video, dated around 1.15 am on August 9, 2014, the teenager can be seen handing over the counter a small bag, which store employees then pass around and smell before a member of staff gives him two boxes of cigarillos.
As he leaves the store, Mr Brown returns to the counter and has the clerk hold the bag with the cigarillos behind the counter.
When he returned to the store ten hours later, he was seen standing behind the counter with his arms behind his back. He then reaches over the counter and grabs boxes of cigarillos. As he leaves, he pushes a member of the staff out of the way.
“They destroyed Michael’s character with the tape, and they didn’t show us what actually happened,” Mr Pollock told the New York Times.
“So this shows their intention to make him look bad. And shows suppression of evidence.”
A lawyer representing the convenience store and its employees has disputed Mr Pollock’s claim account.
“There was no transaction,” Jay Kanzler told the newspaper. “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.”
In the aftermath of the 2014 shooting, the city of Ferguson reached a deal with the US Justice Department to reform its police department and courts.
Federal investigators had found a widespread pattern of racial discrimination and multiple violations of citizens’ constitutional rights in the St Louis suburb.