A prominent New Orleans attorney now represents the eyewitness at the center of the investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Dorian Johnson, 22, who was with Brown when he was shot to death by a police officer, has hired James Williams and a St. Louis-based partner.
Williams' firm of Gauthier, Houghtaling and Williams has a St. Louis office, where it operates as Bosley Williams. Freeman Bosley Jr., William's partner in the Johnson case, was St. Louis' first black mayor.
Williams is in St. Louis, and made the media circuit Friday (Aug. 22) to redirect attention from his client and toward the officer who shot Brown, Darren Wilson.
Johnson said in interviews immediately after the shooting that Wilson shot Brown as he was running away.
Skeptics have assailed Johnson's credibility, pointing to a prior arrest for lying to officers. They also note that a recently released autopsy shows that Wilson's bullets struck Brown from the front, which they say contradicts Johnson's story.
Williams defended Johnson's credibility.
There's a reason why someone's prior criminal history is not usually admissible in court, he said; it's usually irrelevant to the veracity of their testimony.
Credibility should be established in the context of other evidence, Williams said, and, in this case, the evidence aligns with Johnson's version of events.
Johnson's story, as told by Williams:
Johnson and Brown were walking on a neighborhood street when Wilson approached them from the front in a squad car. As he did so, he shouted for them to "Get the 'ef' on the sidewalk."
They responded that they were almost to their destination. Wilson switched into reverse and swung back in front of them to cut them off, stopping so close that his door smacked Brown when Wilson tried to open it.
Attorney James Williams
Brown took exception and slammed the door shut, prompting Wilson to grab Brown by the neck. There was a scuffle. Wilson fired a shot from inside the squad car and the two took off.
Johnson ducked behind a car, and watched as Brown kept running by him. Wilson kept firing.
That's when Brown shouted that he was giving himself up and turned to face the officer, who continued to shoot. Brown was struck, sunk toward the ground, and was struck again as Wilson continued to fire.
Williams said that version is consistent with other witnesses who have also said they saw Brown running away.
"I've spoken with a lot of witnesses, and this young man is telling the truth," Williams said. "He has such vivid details, seeing his friend's eyes blink with every bullet that hit him."
Johnson has been interviewed by the FBI, Williams said, and will probably be called to testify before a grand jury.