One of the key witnesses in Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson’s grand jury case has a history of making racist statements, as well as a history of mental illness, the Smoking Gun has revealed. “Witness 40,” who has been identified as Sandra McElroy, 45, also got herself involved in another prominent criminal case in St. Louis, claiming various details that the police eventually called “complete fabrication.”
McElroy told jurors that she saw Michael Brown beat up Wilson before charging at him “like a football player, head down.” Her testimony, which closely mirrored Wilson’s version of the encounter, was cited by supporters of the now-former cop as corroboration of his claim that he had been attacked by Brown. However, the Smoking Gun has discovered that McElroy was never near the location at Canfield Drive that Saturday afternoon when Brown was shot dead.
According to the news site, McElroy waited until a month after the shooting to get into contact with law enforcement—a point at which, the Smoking Gun points out, Wilson’s version of events had already been more or less drawn out in the media. TSG reports:
McElroy provided the federal investigators with an account that neatly tracked with Wilson’s version of the fatal confrontation. She claimed to have seen Brown and Johnson walking in the street before Wilson encountered them while seated in his patrol car. She said that the duo shoved the cruiser’s door closed as Wilson sought to exit the vehicle, then watched as Brown leaned into the car and began raining punches on the cop. McElroy claimed that she heard gunfire from inside the car, which prompted Brown and Johnson to speed off. As Brown ran, McElroy said, he pulled up his sagging pants, from which “his rear end was hanging out.
But instead of continuing to flee, Brown stopped and turned around to face Wilson, McElroy said. The unarmed teenager, she recalled, gave Wilson a “What are you going to do about it look,” and then “bent down in a football position … and began to charge at the officer.” Brown, she added, “looked like he was on something.” As Brown rushed Wilson, McElroy said, the cop began firing. The “grunting” teenager, McElroy recalled, was hit with a volley of shots, the last of which drove Brown “face first” into the roadway.
Investigators apparently were not quick to buy her story, but she insisted, “I know what I seen.” The authorities then asked her what she was doing in Ferguson, 30 miles away from her home. She told them that she was planning to visit a former high school classmate whom she hadn’t seen in almost three decades. When she realized she had the wrong address and no cellphone on her, McElroy said, she pulled over to smoke a cigarette, which is when the incident unraveled before her eyes.
Despite all the odd information, she was still put in front of the grand jury, TSG notes. TSG also points out that she testified before the grand jury that she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 16 but had not taken her medication for almost 25 years.
During one appearance in front of the grand jury on Nov. 3, McElroy acknowledged that she was not looking for her old black former classmate but instead was doing research by going “into all the African-American neighborhoods,” referring to herself as an “amateur urban anthropologist,” TSG notes. She brought along a journal she said she kept, which included details about the shooting that she said she’d witnessed.
As she testified, McElroy admitted that her sworn account of the Brown-Wilson confrontation was likely peppered with details of the incident she had read online. But she remained adamant about having been on Canfield Drive and seeing Brown “going after the officer like a football player” before being shot to death.
McElroy’s last two journal entries for August 9 read like an after-the-fact summary of the account she gave to federal investigators on October 22 and the Ferguson grand jury the following afternoon. It is so obvious that the notebook entries were not contemporaneous creations that investigators should have checked to see if the ink had dried.
The opening entry in McElroy’s journal on the day Brown died declared, “Well Im gonna take my random drive to Florisant. Need to understand the Black race better so I stop calling Blacks Niggers and Start calling them People.
This case, TSG also discovered, is not the first time McElroy’s veracity has been questioned:
McElroy’s devotion to the truth—lacking during her appearances before the Ferguson grand jury—was also absent in early-2007 when she fabricated a bizarre story in the wake of the rescue of Shawn Hornbeck, a St. Louis boy who had been held captive for more than four years by Michael Devlin, a resident of Kirkwood, a city just outside St. Louis.
McElroy, who also lived in Kirkwood, told KMOV-TV that she had known Devlin for 20 years. She also claimed to have gone to the police months after the child’s October 2002 disappearance to report that she had seen Devlin with Hornbeck. The police, McElroy said, checked out her tip and determined that the boy with Devlin was not Hornbeck.
In the face of McElroy’s allegations, the Kirkwood Police Department fired back at her. Cops reported that they investigated her claim and determined that “we have no record of any contact with Mrs. McElroy in regards to Shawn Hornbeck.” The police statement concluded, “We have found that this story is a complete fabrication.”
Read more at the Smoking Gun.