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Interview with Michael Brown`s Parents
Aired November 26, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was a gentle giant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t deserve none of this. None of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight. With us, the parents of the Ferguson unarmed teen, Michael Brown. And did eyewitnesses tell the truth? Do their stories add
up? We examine the evidence.
I want to thank Michael Brown`s parents for being with us. Joining me right now, Lesley McSpadden. This is Michael`s mother. And with me,
Michael Brown, Sr., Michael`s father. To both of you, thank you for being with us.
MICHAEL BROWN, SR., MICHAEL BROWN`S FATHER: You`re welcome.
GRACE: The first thing I want to ask you, Ms. McSpadden, is how exhausted are you? This is -- I`ve been through it with the murder of my
fiance, and I thought there was nothing worse than that until I had children. How drained are you from this?
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, MICHAEL BROWN`S MOTHER: Very. I`m very drained and I`m very hurt and very disappointed.
GRACE: You know, we all hear about all the stages grieving that you`re supposed to go through to get healthy again. I don`t know how you
can do that when you wake up every morning and relive the whole thing. How -- when you first wake up in the morning, Ms. McSpadden, before your feet
hit the floor, what`s your first thought?
MCSPADDEN: I don`t even know. To be honest with you, I don`t even know. I can`t even tell you my thought process since August 9th. My mind
is just all over the place.
GRACE: Mr. Brown, I remember I would wake up and I would think everything had been a horrible, horrible dream, and then it didn`t take me
long to remember it was real, and that is how my day would start. And that lasted for years. When you first get up in the morning, what hits you?
What`s the first thing?
BROWN: That I`m not going to see my son again. It`s hard to even close my eyes -- flashes and pictures. It`s just -- it`s hard. During the
time when I`m asleep, I don`t even know I`m asleep. I just wake up, like, Wow, I`m asleep, you know, because it`s so hard to just -- I close my eyes,
that`s all I see.
GRACE: What -- what is it -- when you close your eyes, what do you see?
BROWN: Visions of my son, good times, smile, laughter, jokes, just his whole personality.
GRACE: When you say you don`t even know if you`ve even been asleep or not, what -- you lay there and you -- you think you`re awake and then you
realize you`ve been asleep, and then it starts all over again?
BROWN: Yes. Yes.
GRACE: That day, the day that Michael was shot -- and I`m not talking about right or wrong, or the cop said this or that happened. I`m not even
talking about that yet. Where were you -- where were you, Ms. McSpadden when you got the news about Michael? What happened?
MCSPADDEN: I was at work. And I got a phone call from someone in the apartment complex letting me know that someone had been shot. And at that
moment, I felt something inside my body like -- like a hurting feeling in my chest. And I asked them, you know, Describe the person to me. But they
And my line clicked, and it was my sister. And when I clicked over, she was crying. And she told me that my son had been shot, but she didn`t
tell me that my son was dead.
And that was enough for me, to hear that he had been shot. I just -- I just start running. That was my first instinct, just to run and get to
him. But I knew I was too far away to run. And a co-worker of mine, she took me to Ferguson, where it happened.
And as soon as I got to Canfield, I got out of her car and I started running again. And when I got down the street, I just seen some white
sheets laid over something. And I didn`t want to think that was Mike-Mike, not under the sheets!
So I -- I asked the police. I asked them over and over again. I gave them a description. I told them about his tattoos and everything, and they
never came back and told me anything. It was the people that lived in the apartments that had all these pictures that showed it. And that`s how I
knew it was my son.
GRACE: They showed you cell phone photos of his body?
MCSPADDEN: Cell phone, tablets, any mobile device they had that they was taking pictures.
GRACE: And you were standing out there, in all those people when they showed you the pictures? What did you do?
MCSPADDEN: I just cried even harder because it just confirmed it for me.
GRACE: I`m just thinking about what you said, that you got the phone call that someone had been shot, and then your sister clicked in and said
Michael had been shot, and you just wanted to run.
MCSPADDEN: I just started running. It was my first instinct, run, get to him. And I was outside my job and I ran in. And I was just
screaming, saying, Someone just shot my son. And everybody at my job knows how I am about my children. And a co-worker of mine, the next thing I
remember was her driving me to Canfield. And it felt like it took me forever.
GRACE: What do you remember about that drive trying to get to him?
MCSPADDEN: I just remember crying and screaming and just saying, No, don`t let it be. Let him be all right. And I just kept saying those words
over and over, asking the Lord just to make sure my son was OK!
GRACE: When you got out of the car -- you said you got out, and you started running.
GRACE: Running where?
MCSPADDEN: To him, running down Canfield. Actually, me and Mike got to the -- Canfield at the same exact time. We both pulled up at the same
time, and we both started running. And they stopped us at the tape. And we just was asking, Is that him? Is that him? They didn`t tell us then,
and they haven`t told us anything right now today.
GRACE: What do you mean they haven`t told you anything to this day?
MCSPADDEN: Meaning that Ferguson has not stood up and even gave us a condolence, a sympathy card, anything, an apology, nothing.
GRACE: Mr. Brown, just thinking of her running like that, I wonder, did you do that, did you think, Can I get to him? Can I save him? Maybe
he`s just been shot and he`s not dead. Maybe I can fix it. What happened? Where were you when you got that call?
BROWN: I had just made it home from work. The phone rang. It was Lesley`s mother. Lesley`s mother had called and said, Mike-Mike`s been
shot. He`s laying in the middle of the street in a puddle of blood. I say, What? I say, What you say? She said, Mike, you need to get here now.
I dropped the phone. My mother-in-law jumped in the car, my wife, and we sped over to Canfield as fast we can.
GRACE: When you said that, my whole body just had chills go down it, for somebody to say, Your son`s been shot, he is lying in the middle of the
street in a puddle of blood, you need to drop the phone and get there right -- right now. What went through your body?
BROWN: It was a lot of emotions, anger, confused, just needing to get there, see what the problem was, just was kind of in denial. You know, my
emotions was just all over the place. I -- I just needed to get in -- get over there and see what was going on.
GRACE: Did you believe it? Did you believe that Michael was dead?
BROWN: At the time, no. But as I start -- because when we got there, wasn`t nobody asking no questions. Wasn`t nobody -- there was just real
disrespect. We got there. It was a -- at that time, he was covered up. He wasn`t just laying out there. He was covered up.
And I`m just looking around in the crowd. I said, I know my boy is over here. He`s at his grandma`s house. He was over here for -- you know,
to visit, to -- to have a nice time before he start school in college. I said, I don`t see him out here.
Then I seen the hat that I bought him because he was my best man in my wedding. I seen the hat on the ground. I seen two of his flip-flops.
That`s when it became -- it became true that that was my boy laying on that ground, up under that sheet.
GRACE: When you saw the hat and you saw the flip-flops, what did you do?
BROWN: Just broke down. At that point, I couldn`t hold it. I couldn`t -- I was already confused. We was just wondering, like, Is it
him? Is it him? And it was just confirmed. I just dropped to my knees. It`s the only thing I remember.
GRACE: You know, it`s funny you say that about the hat and the flip- flops because I remember when I saw my fiance`s bloody shirt, I -- I couldn`t take it in, really. I mean, it was drenched with blood. And when
you saw that hat and those flip-flops, you knew.
Let me ask you this. You see a sheet. You see the hat. You see the flip-flops. When did somebody tell you that he had been shot by a police
BROWN: Well, there was a few -- like Lesley said, there was a few witnesses out there that took footage, had their cell phones rolling at the
-- ever since they heard the shots, the cell phones or tablets, whatever they had was rolling at the time.
And they were just standing there by him on the footage that we seen. It wasn`t -- it didn`t look like they was trying to go to no type of rescue
when he was laying there before the sheet was laid over him, indicating, let me know that they were involved in that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "When I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hulk Hogan against a 5-year-old? Nobody (INAUDIBLE) officer. You`re 6-foot-4. You weigh 226 pounds. Michael
Brown is 6-foot-6. He weighs 292 pounds. You mean to tell me that he hit you with such force, as you were describing, that it was going to knock you
unconscious, and nobody held up the pictures to say, But that`s not consistent with the physical evidence!`
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Everybody, thank you for being with us tonight because with me, two very special guests and very dear to my heart. Regardless of what
you think happened in that Ferguson grand jury, nothing changes what has happened in their hearts. With me are the parents of Michael Brown, the
Ferguson teen, Ms. Lesley McSpadden and Mr. Michael Brown, Sr.
Ms. McSpadden, I just keep going back to what you said about when you got the call, and you just wanted to run. And you got there and you saw
the sheet. Did you, like Mr. Brown, recognize the hat and the flip-flops?
MCSPADDEN: Yes. I did. I saw them on the ground.
GRACE: That must have been like a knife in your heart.
MCSPADDEN: It was. It was. I felt like I had been shot.
GRACE: When did someone, anybody, tell you that he had been shot by a police officer?
MCSPADDEN: Pretty much when we got on the scene and saw the hat and the shoe, and I said, Who did this? Who did this? And for a moment, no
one would say anything. And then a group of people said, The police. But by that time, it was plenty other police out there, so I said, What police?
Is he out here? They said, No. He -- they took him away.
Like, I`m really -- I was really confused at this point because when you said that he police did something, you expect them to stand (INAUDIBLE)
and be there to tell you why they did what they did.
GRACE: What did you do? How long did you stay there with Michael`s body? Where did you go?
MCSPADDEN: I didn`t go anywhere. I stayed right there until they pick my son up off the ground.
GRACE: I don`t know how you even could hold back and stay on the other side of that crime scene tape. But what, did you just stand there?
What -- what was going through your mind as you stood there? Because his body stayed out there for hours.
MCSPADDEN: What was going through my mind, I can`t even tell you because I don`t remember. I don`t remember that first 48 hours to 72
hours. But I know that once I found out that was my son, I wasn`t leaving until they picked him up off the ground. And that was my request the
entire time, Get him up off the ground. Why is he still on the ground? Please pick him up off the ground.
We wanted to break through that tape. They pulled out dogs, guns. They started acting like we shot somebody! But this is our son laying on
GRACE: What do you mean they pulled out dogs and guns?
MCSPADDEN: When we wanted question -- we wanted answers because we had questions, they told us that they needed everybody to move back, that
they were doing an investigation right at that very moment. But he`s still on the ground, ask us to move the crowd back, and us feeling like, If we do
this, you`re going to hurry up and get him off the ground. But no, they didn`t. They brought out dogs and start siccing them on people,
threatening people with the dogs. And from dogs -- I guess that wasn`t enough for them, then they got guns and was pointing them at the people to
move the crowd back. That`s how the crowd got incited, from the police.
GRACE: Mr. Brown, what do you recall? Is that your recollection?
BROWN: Yes, there was -- it was like she said. The dogs, the aiming of a gun pointed at you by police -- by police officers that just did harm
to your son is very disturbing. That`s why I really had a problem with that.
GRACE: Ms. McSpadden, we -- you said you guys are standing there together and you wanted to break through the yellow crime scene tape.
GRACE: What did you want to do?
MCSPADDEN: I just wanted to hug my son and touch him, something, anything besides what I was doing! And I felt helpless. I wanted to help
GRACE: Everyone, with me tonight are Michael Brown`s parents. With me is Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown, Sr. And they were describing
what they went through from the moment they got the call at work and just coming home from work, to getting there and realizing that that was their
son, their child.
Regardless of how he has been portrayed by everyone else, he is their child, under a sheet in the middle of the street. And they saw his flip-
flops and his hat that his father had given him.
Ma`am, you had just said that you wanted to break through that crime scene tape and go to him and -- and do what? What did you want?
MCSPADDEN: I wanted my son off the ground. I wanted them to show him some respect, like we were showing them. That`s my first-born laying on
the ground! That hurt me into my heart to know that somebody`s hurt him that way, and I couldn`t help him.
GRACE: When they finally got him off the ground, where did -- where did he go? Where did you go?
MCSPADDEN: They told us they were taking him to a place called Berkeley. I didn`t know what that was. I asked him, what is that? Once
again, disrespect, telling us to calm down. We haven`t did anything. We`ve stood here and waited four and a half hours for you to pick my son
off the ground and I asked where are you taking his body, and then you tell me to calm down. Why? What? I need to know where he`s going to be. We
didn`t know where he was for two weeks.
GRACE: What was Berkeley?
MCSPADDEN: I still don`t know right now to this day.
GRACE: You did not know where his body was for two weeks?
MCSPADDEN: After Berkeley, it was supposed to have been in the medical examiner. But the question is why didn`t we get to see him?
GRACE: I don`t know. Why didn`t you get to see him? What did they say?
MCSPADDEN: They wouldn`t tell us anything. They didn`t talk to us at all. They did not communicate with us.
GRACE: Ms. McSpadden, when is the first time that you got to see his body?
MCSPADDEN: A day before his funeral.
GRACE: And where was that?
MCSPADDEN: In a funeral home.
GRACE: What happened?
MCSPADDEN: It was a private viewing that we had for the family. And they made him look like himself as much as they could, and that was the
first time I saw him.
GRACE: What did you think? I can still remember the first time I saw my fiance, the only time I saw him in a casket, I passed out. I absolutely
passed out on the floor. I just couldn`t take it in, I guess. When you saw him, what did you think?
MCSPADDEN: I never thought I would be burying my child. I felt all kind of emotions. But a loss was the biggest one.
GRACE: What did you dress him in? What did you do for him?
MCSPADDEN: I dressed him the way that he would dress himself from head to toe.
GRACE: What do you mean?
MCSPADDEN: He was 18. He liked to wear jeans, a nice shirt, a nice hat, a nice sweater, and then I put a bowtie on him, because that`s
something I liked to see him in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bruises to his face don`t appear serious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a statement, the family said we aren`t here to be violent, we are here in memory of our son.
BROWN: Don`t want no violence. We don`t want no violence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brown`s family continue their fight, calling for the passage of a so-called Michael Brown law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back, everyone. With me, two special guests, joining me, it`s Michael`s parents, Mr. Michael Brown, Sr., his father, and his
mother, Lesley McSpadden. They had just described getting to the funeral home. For two weeks, they did not know where their son`s body was.
Ms. McSpadden, you said you wanted him to look as much like himself as possible. What did you mean by that?
MCSPADDEN: Meaning because I knew damage had been done to his face and his body.
GRACE: When was it that it all started to unfold and you began hearing the story of what happened the night he was shot?
MCSPADDEN: You know, it probably was being said that day, but like I said, for the first couple of days, I can`t tell you what I heard, what I
remember, what I said. I really don`t know. But I`m going to say this, it took me a while to look at a picture or read certain paragraphs about
certain things, because I couldn`t digest it and I couldn`t deal with it mentally.
So, it took me a while, and I will say maybe about three to four weeks ago is when I really started looking at some of the pictures and some of
the things that were being wrote.
I always heard things, but I had to really look and read for myself so that I can, you know, digest them through my mind and my soul. And I`m not
getting any answers still.
GRACE: You know, a lot of people may not understand that, but -- and I don`t know what this means, but to this day, to this day, all these years
later, I still have not been able to bring myself to read the trial transcript of Keith`s murder and what happened -- and -- to this day. I
can`t take in.
And I`m just wondering, Mr. Brown, if there are days that you just can`t watch it on TV anymore and you can`t hear it anymore because you
can`t get sucked down and go back to where you were when you first heard about the shooting?
BROWN: Yes. It was a while before we even started watching TV. Everything that came out people`s mouths was just like badging his name,
badging his name, just driving it to the dirt. Just seeing pictures and just hearing his name just even being brought up on TV, just was a lot. It
took me a while to even watch it. I just started watching it, the news, the TV, this coming up just last month because I knew I had to get focused
and look at some of the evidence and see what people were saying, you know, because all of it is not negative. There`s a lot of positive with some of
the things that were being said about the situation.
GRACE: Ms. McSpadden, you`ve heard what everybody`s said about Michael Brown. What do you say? What do you say?
MCSPADDEN: That just -- oh, boy.
GRACE: When you hear him being portrayed as a thug, what do you say?
MCSPADDEN: They lies. They all lies. And I say that they don`t know my son. They don`t know him at all. They can`t know him from a -- from a
video clipping that someone showed them for 18 seconds. We knew him for 18 years.
GRACE: Ferguson, Michael Brown, the officer, seven shots. What`s the truth of it all? Will we ever know the truth? Well, I know this truth. I
know that Michael`s parents are with us, Michael Brown`s parents, and they are speaking from their hearts.
You know, you were talking about, Ms. McSpadden, that video clip, and somehow, it seems as if -- I mean, there`s no denying it. But it somehow
seems as if his whole existence is now defined by the one moment. You know, nobody`s told me about him having a big criminal record, but all I
keep hearing and seeing is that one thing.
Now, my children, to me, they don`t do anything wrong. I haven`t seen them do a thing wrong. But wouldn`t you know, when I have them out at the
school and all the parents and all that, they get into a fight. I don`t want everybody to think that`s what they are, because they`re not. That`s
not what they are. And I want to know what you think when you see that clip of him going in the store and he takes, he steals, he steals
something, all right? He steals a box of Swisher Sweets, I guess that`s what it was, and leaves with it. And now somehow, that is what this is
about. That is not what this is about.
MCSPADDEN: No, not at all. That`s not what it`s about at all. The officer wasn`t even aware of whatever happened in the store, if he stole
something. That`s if.
GRACE: What -- what goes through you when you see that video? I mean, and we see it all the time. And I`m not saying it`s not true. But
that one thing, if he did that, that -- that doesn`t define him.
MCSPADDEN: No. And that could have been dealt with in another way. That didn`t mean he was supposed to die or you was supposed to shoot him
down like nobody loved him.
GRACE: What do you think, Ms. McSpadden, what do you think happened?
MCSPADDEN: I think that Darren Wilson got up on the wrong side of the bed. I think he had a hidden agenda to do what he did, whether it was my
son or somebody else`s son, but that particular day, he had a hidden agenda to not do his job, but to do his own duty. He was working on a personal
and not a professional level. And I think he was completely wrong, all the way wrong. I don`t think he used his better judgment from beginning to
GRACE: I want you to hear one small piece of what he said. And I was struck, and I`m not angry at the reporters, but I`m perplexed at him, the
night before the grand jury decision was made public, floating the idea that he would give a national TV interview. I find that very interesting,
that the night while he was awaiting the grand jury decision, he was working on a TV interview. But here we go. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you`re absolutely convinced, when you look through your heart and your mind, that if Michael Brown were white, this
would have gone down in exactly the same way?
STEPHANOPOULOS: No question?
WILSON: No question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That is Darren Wilson speaking to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News. I just -- to say I couldn`t have done anything different, how can
that be? Why do you have to shoot somebody dead? Somebody that had started running away from you?
MCSPADDEN: Because he wanted to. He didn`t do what he had to do, he did what he wanted to do.
GRACE: Mr. Brown, what do you make -- and there are people that say they saw this. What do you make of the officer saying that Michael reached
into the car? What do you make of that? Do you believe that?
BROWN: No, I don`t. Because before he had said that he had grabbed Michael and was pulling him towards the car. So which one is it?
GRACE: Welcome back. Michael Brown`s parents with us. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you feel any remorse?
WILSON: Everyone feels remorse when a life`s lost. Like I told you before, I never wanted to take anybody`s life. You know, that`s not the
good part of the job. That`s the bad part of the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Darren Wilson speaking to George Stephanopoulos on ABC News. Ms. McSpadden, what do you make of that?
MCSPADDEN: I don`t believe a word he says.
GRACE: Well, this is the thing that strikes me. I don`t know if you can see this, but this is the picture of the officer the night of the
incident. There`s not even a bruise on his face. There`s a red mark. And your son is dead. That`s the truth that I know. But I want to get this
crystallized in my mind, Ms. McSpaddden. When you think of him, when you think of Michael Brown, what is your most vivid image of him in your mind?
MCSPADDEN: The most vivid, it would be the last image. It was when we went fishing as a family, and everybody had caught a fish, you know?
And he was taking turns. He would say, well, I can`t get one on my pole. Let me see your pole. He wanted to see everybody`s pole that had caught a
fish. And I said, we can`t leave until Mike gets at least one fish on his hook. And when he got that fish on the hook, he swung that pole back so
fast, and the fish went flying over our head. This was probably about a month before that happened to my son, because it was still warm outside.
And I have many other memories, but that would be the last one, because that was the last thing we did together as a family. We went fishing. And
I even got pictures of it.
And what`s so strange in those pictures, he turned like this, and I just got him from the back fishing, you know, because when he swung the
pole, I had to duck. But that was -- he always was so happy to achieve something. You know?
GRACE: Can I ask you something? Do you feel that you have felt his presence since he passed?
MCSPADDEN: Yep, several times. Mostly when it rain outside.
GRACE: Ms. McSpadden and Mr. Brown, our prayers are with you, and they will stay with you. Thank you for being with us.
MCSPADDEN: Thank you.
BROWN: Thank you.
GRACE: We are stopping to remember American hero, Army Specialist Brett Hershey, 23, State College, Pennsylvania. Purple Heart, left Indiana
University to enlist. An Indianapolis Colts fan. Parents Roxanne and Roger, two sisters, Abby and Nicole, brother Nathan. Brett Hershey,
And tonight, a special good night to one of our own superstars, Kyle Pelt. I just love him. As he goes to start the next chapter of his life.
Kyle, walk slow and hurry back, sweet friend. And from all of our hearts to yours, happy Thanksgiving. I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp
Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.