Ferguson grand jury may have had too much information, unreliable witnesses

Michael Brown (AP Photo)

(CNN) — Is there such a thing as too much information?

More than two weeks after a Saint Louis County grand jury did not indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, new revelations about the evidence that drove their decision.

Some witnesses admitted to lying. Others changed their story.

“Some witnesses admitted they didn’t actually see the shooting, or only saw part of the shooting or only repeating what they heard on the street,” St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said.

The grand jury had to figure out who and what to believe.

“This is demonstrating to the citizens what people in the justice system have known for a long time. That eyewitness testimony, the data is increasingly showing, is inherently at best, unreliable. At worst it’s completely unreliable,” CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos said.

Thousands of pages of documents — made public– turn up several examples of testimony with little to no credibility.

Witness 22, whose testimony was at first damaging to Officer Wilson, admitted she lied when pressed by investigators. Eventually telling the grand jury, “I just felt like I want to be part of something … I didn’t see what I told the FBI…”

Testimony from Witness 35 might have helped lead to an indictment of Officer Wilson testifying that Michael Brown was, quote, “on his knees,” when shot in the head, by Wilson. But it wasn’t true. The witness admits to making that story up.

In one exchange, the prosecutor asked: “Are you telling us the only thing that’s true about all of your statements before this is that you saw that police officer shoot him at-point blank range?”

The answer: yes.

And it happened on both sides.

Witness 40 supported Wilson’s version of what happened. But prosecutors revealed she posted a racist comment on-line on the day of the shooting that read, quote: “They need to kill the expletive expletive. It’s like an ape fest.” When questioned about what she allegedly saw, she admitted to having gathered some details from news reports.

“And we took off running,” said witness Dorian Johnson.

Johnson was one witness who remained consistent. He was with Brown at the time of the shooting. Johnson told a nearly identical “hands up” version of what happened to county and federal authorities the grand jury and the media.

“He shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands up in the air and started to get down, but the officer continued to come with his weapon drawn and he fired several more shots,” Johnson said.

62 witnesses total, more than 5,000 documents of testimony presented. Did the ones that were credible all have the same version of the shooting?

“No, and that’s something else that’s really important for people to learn about this as you piece through this testimony,” CNN correspondent Josh Levs said.

Levs has led the project of going through all the documents made public.

“Most of them were probably doing their best to say what it is they remember what happened. But no, they do not have one joint narrative as to what happened,” Levs said.

Leaving critics to question if there was too much information presented to the grand jury. Should the process have been done differently? And if so, could it have led to a different outcome?

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