Witness 40 is a racist liar. Why did the Ferguson prosecutors have her testify?

Opinion, Crime, NakedLaw

Less than 24 hours after the Ferguson grand jury transcripts were released last month, I tweeted my disgust with Witness 40, a woman whose testimony neatly conformed to police officer Darren Wilson’s in the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, and who played fast and loose with the N word:

What on earth?

Witness 40 is a self-proclaimed racist

Witness 40, Sandra McElroy, journaled – if we are to believe her, and I don’t, about anything – that she witnessed the shooting of Mike Brown because she had driven, all alone, over to Ferguson on that Sunday afternoon in August because she’s a racist and wanted to mingle with inner-city black folks in order to stop being racist.

But it seems her psychological experiment didn’t succeed. Shortly after Mike Brown was shot dead and lay in the street for four hours, generating justifiable community outrage, she posted on Facebook about the upset community members:

“They need to kill the fucking [N word]. It is like an ape fest.”[1]

So let’s be very clear here. Witness 40 is plainly a racist, as she herself admits in her grand jury testimony, which I have now read in its entirety. “It is racist,” she concedes regarding that Facebook post.[2]

And McElroy has a history of this type of in-your-face hatred. Like the time in 2005 when her bankruptcy lawyer had to withdraw because of McElroy’s “racial slurs” toward her secretary. Or her fondness for referring to African Americans as “apes” or “monkeys” on her YouTube page.

I could go on, but it’s all contained in the The Smoking Gun’s report. Kudos to them for digging into court records and unearthing this damning information. Information that could easily have been obtained by police and prosecutors interested in getting to the truth, had any existed in this case.

Witness 40 is a well-documented liar

McElroy’s other major problem is dishonesty. She has multiple check fraud felony convictions, which constitute crimes of moral turpitude — meaning a person has been found to be a liar.

There’s also the 2007 incident where she inserted herself improbably into another prominent, media-covered crime story, saying she’d seen a missing child with his kidnapper. After investigating her, the police in that case said:

“We have found that this story is a complete fabrication.”

Those are important background incidents, but in this very case involving Mike Brown and Darren Wilson she’s also shown herself to be an out-and-out liar.

McElroy admits to lying to federal agents and lying under oath

Preposterously, McElroy first told the FBI investigator that she decided spontaneously on the morning of August 9 to drive 30 miles to visit an old high school friend whom she hadn’t seen in 26 years. Did she call her friend to say she was coming? No. Email her? No. Facebook message her? No. Tell anyone else? No. Bring her cell phone? No. McElroy, a 45-year-old mother of five, didn’t tell a soul. Even when she supposedly got lost, she didn’t call her friend to ask for directions.

Then, presto! McElroy saw the encounter between Brown and Wilson unfold right before her eyes, she says. Afterwards, she said she drove away via a route that FBI investigators pointed out was physically impossible.

McElroy admits that yes, before speaking with the FBI she did read a bunch of news articles online. Unsurprisingly, her story neatly conformed to Darren Wilson’s by-then-publicly-available story, especially her account that Mike Brown charged him like a football player, forcing Wilson to fire those fatal shots.

The grand jury broke for the afternoon halfway through McElroy’s testimony. When she returned a few weeks later, she offered up — for the first time — the obviously concocted, after-the-fact “journal” page.

In this same return testimony, she admitted that the story about visiting a friend was a falsehood. Her account of seeing the beginning of the encounter between Wilson and Brown at the police car was also not true. Other big chunks of her story were things she probably learned on the Internet. So, everything she said to the FBI and to the grand jury under oath was invented.

After that, the prosecutors followed the lead of the grand jurors, who lit into McElroy for her bigotry, and asked her a series of tough questions.

We can’t know whether any grand jurors relied on McElroy’s testimony when making their decision, but certainly some in the media have pointed to her account when justifying the decision not to indict.

* * *

Friends, when people debate this case and say witnesses supported Darren Wilson’s version of events, please ask them which witnesses they are talking about. McElroy, the admitted racist and known liar? Or Witness 10, who first claimed to have seen the encounter from nearly a football field’s distance away, then halved the distance in subsequent testimony?

I’ve been passionate about this case from the beginning after watching many credible members of the community say publicly that Mike Brown was shot with his hands in the air, in the universal symbol of surrender.

Witnesses like business-owner Tiffany Mitchell who had the courage to speak on camera, carefully limiting herself to commenting only on what she remembered, remaining consistent in repeated interviews. Or the construction worker who was captured on camera moments after the shooting, re-enacting the shooting of Brown with his hands up, exclaiming, “he had his fucking hands in the air!”

It’s not surprising that some witnesses testified otherwise. What is so deeply disturbing is how poor their credibility is, that McElroy was put on the stand at all, and that prosecutor Bob McCulloch trumpeted their accounts that Brown charged at Wilson in the statement announcing no indictment.

Why is McElroy not being prosecuted for lying to federal agents and committing perjury?

To the next reporter who gets a shot at Bob McCulloch, please ask: “And the reason McElroy is not being prosecuted for lying to federal agents and perjury is …?” 

McElroy admitted that she lied about material parts of her testimony under oath. You, Mr. McCulloch, are being handed these facts on a silver platter. What more could you possibly need?

Or is this going to be another case of no indictment just because you don’t want to go there, regardless of the law? Does she get a pass just because? Or because charging her with perjury slops mud on your office as well?

Mr. McCulloch, you told the grand jurors on the record at the outset that this case was different. And now we see just how different it was. Someone with McElroy’s criminal and personal history would never have testified at any other grand jury or trial.

Mr. McCulloch, why did you allow your assistants to put McElroy on the stand? Were they so incompetent that they failed to see her for the hate-filled confabulator she is? Why did your office not do a simple court records check on her?

Or did they, or you, suborn perjury[3] (a felony)?

  • [1] Sandra McElroy’s October 23, 2014 grand jury testimony, p. 177.
  • [2] Sandra McElroy’s October 23, 2014 grand jury testimony, p. 182.
  • [3] Suborn perjury: The crime of encouraging or persuading someone to commit perjury

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.