ST. LOUIS The outrage over a Ferguson police officer's fatal shooting of Michael Brown is partly grounded in the account of the teen's friend: Dorian Johnson.
Johnson, 22, may be the closest eyewitness to the shooting. He has repeatedly told media since Saturday that he and Brown were walking in the middle of the street when the officer pulled up and ordered them to "get the F on the sidewalk" and grabbed Brown, 18, in the throat. Johnson disputed the statement by St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar that Brown reached in the car and struggled for the officer's gun.
On Monday, on the MSNBC show "All In," host Chris Hayes asked: "Did Michael reach and struggle for the officer's gun as the police are saying he did?" Johnson answered: "That is incorrect, sir, he did not reach for a weapon at all."
Johnson's statements are a significant part of what the public has heard about the encounter that ended with Brown's death. He has appeared for the past three days on national cable networks at the side of his lawyer, former St. Louis Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr., and spoke Wednesday with local reporter Farrah Fazal.
Authorities were getting a chance to hear his story Wednesday. Bosley, who complained earlier this week that investigators were not initially interested in speaking with Johnson, said Wednesday morning that he was picking up Johnson to take him to meet with authorities. Late Wednesday afternoon, St. Louis County police said they were interviewing Johnson after being unable to locate him earlier in the week. Bosley said Wednesday night that his client was meeting with FBI agents.
Johnson has revealed little about himself. He attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City for two semesters in 2011, but "wound up back here, struggling to find a job," Bosley said.
During the summer after his first semester at Lincoln, Johnson was charged with a misdemeanor after giving police a false first name after he was arrested on suspicion of theft. He later pleaded guilty.
He was accused of stealing a package containing a backpack belonging to someone else from an apartment complex. When he was arrested in that case, he identified himself as Derrick Johnson and said he was 16.
An officer found a student ID card in his sock identifying him as Dorian Johnson. Johnson told him he was carrying a friend's ID, but two Lincoln University police officers recognized him as Dorian Johnson. He pleaded guilty in circuit court to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report.
He is wanted for failing to appear in Jefferson City municipal court to answer to the theft charge, court officials said.
Johnson declined to be interviewed by the Post-Dispatch.
On Wednesday, Bosley acknowledged that Johnson told him he did "know something about that" and that he'd ask him more about it when he got the chance.
Several other witnesses have come forward with accounts similar to Johnson's.
Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP chapter, which has been encouraging witnesses to come forward, said Johnson's false report case "doesn't concern me."
"He's been very clear about what occurred, and now we have ... four others stating facts that support the statements he's been making," Pruitt said. "Why would that diminish other accounts that are relatively the same?"
(Staff writers Jesse Bogan and Virginia Young contributed to this report)
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