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Ferguson Documents: What The Witnesses Saw

Leading up to a grand jury's decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, witness testimony has been hotly debated.

The big question has always been whether Wilson felt threatened and whether Michael Brown had his hands up when Wilson opened fire. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch hinted last night that some of the more believable testimony showed that Brown was charging officer Wilson.

Last night, we received documents detailing the testimony of dozens of witnesses. We're sifting through it, and hopefully at the end of our dive, we'll be able to give you a good idea of how this confrontation unfolded.

One thing to keep in mind: We don't know much about the witnesses. We don't know their names, race or sex.

We'll update this post with the latest often, so hit refresh.

Update at 10:06 a.m. ET. 'He Was Executed':

When talking to local police, Witness No. 14 offers some of the most compelling testimony.

"[Brown] was to me, and I'm going to say it, he was executed," the witness said. "He had made up his mind he was going to kill him."

Here's how the witness described the scene to investigators:

This witness seems convinced that Brown was stumbling — not charging — Wilson. During a second interview, a federal investigator tries to get some detail from the witness. The exchanges really open up the crux of this case.

Were Brown's hands a sign of surrender? Or was he checking his injuries?

The witness eventually says: "He was defenseless, hands up, he was trying to stay on his feet and you could see that his knees was beginning to buckle and he was going down."

But the investigator eventually gets to a very important point: Michael Brown was moving toward Wilson every time the officer fired his weapon.

Update at 9:14 a.m. ET. Hands Up?

Witness No. 12 was interviewed three times by police. This witness saw the altercation from a bedroom window and then went downstairs and outside to witness the rest.

The difference in this testimony is that the witness says Wilson fired the first shot once Brown was running away from the car. The witness says Wilson fired, hit Brown, and that's when Brown turned around, probably raised his hands, before curling up and falling on the ground. The witness says Wilson fired more shots while Brown was curling up.

Here's a relevant excerpt:

Update at 8:18 a.m. ET. Wrestling Through The Window:

In an interview with detectives, Witness No. 10 says that Wilson and Brown began their confrontation while Wilson was still in his car.

The witness hears the sound of a gunshot while Wilson is still in the car. Here's the relevant excerpt:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.