Missouri prosecutor dismisses new Michael Brown surveillance video as edited, 'pathetic'

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FERGUSON, Mo., March 13 (Reuters) - Previously undisclosed video of Michael Brown, recorded hours before the unarmed black 18-year-old was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has raised new questions about a suspected robbery that police said he committed in his final hours.

The footage unearthed by a documentary filmmaker shows the teenager visiting a convenience store the night before his 2014 killing, which prompted national protests and kindled a debate about how U.S. police treat minorities.

RELATED: Nationwide protests erupt after Michael Brown shooting

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FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A police squad car is turned over by demonstrators during a protest on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Yesterday protesting turned into rioting following the grand jury announcement to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 11: Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown who was killed Saturday in this suburban St. Louis community. Yesterday 32 arrests were made after protests turned into rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 16: Police stand guard before the mandatory midnight curfew on August 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The curfew was imposed on Saturday in an attempt to reign in the violence that has erupted nearly every night in the suburban St. Louis town since the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protest against the August 9 police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by holding their hands up while gathered on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri late on August 16, 2014. A crowd of some 200 demonstrators defied a curfew that came into effect in Ferguson early on August 17, days after police shot dead the unarmed black teen, triggering a wave of rioting. AFP PHOTO / Joshua LOTT (Photo credit should read Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: A demonstrator protesting the killings of 18-year-olds Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri Police officer and Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer gets help after being maced by police on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson following Brown's death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 15: Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting of Michael Brown on August 15, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. Protestors raise their hands and chant 'Hands up, don't shoot' as a rally cry to draw attention to reports that stated Brown's hands were raised when he was shot. Tonight demonstration again ended with protestors clashing with police followed by more looting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Guests raise their hands as they wait in line to enter the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church for the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 25: Michael Brown Sr. yells out as the casket is lowered into the ground during the funeral for his son Michael Brown at St. Peters Cemetery on August 25, 2014 in St. Louis Missouri. Michael Brown, an 18 year-old unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the nearby town of Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. His death caused several days of violent protests along with rioting and looting in Ferguson. (Photo by Richard Perry-Pool/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 24: Michael Brown Sr. (L) and Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton (2nd from left) hold up their hands as attorny Benjamin Crump (R) speaks at Peace Fest music festival in Forest Park on August 24, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Brown is the father of Michael Brown who was shot and killed by a police officer in nearby Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. Michael will be buried tomorrow. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 01: Students stage a 'die in' at Washington University to draw attention to police abuse on December 1, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 'die in' was part a nationwide protest calling for workers to walk off their jobs and students to walk out of their classes to call attention to the perceived miscarriage of justice sparked by the August 9th death of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer. When the grand jury announced on November 24, that Wilson would not face charges in the shooting rioting and looting broke out throughout the area leaving several businesses burned to the ground. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: People leave a liquor store with items after protestors rioted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wilson. (Photo by Eric Thayer for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, is experiencing its fourth day of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 16: Business owner Mustafa Alshalabi cleans damage to his store, Sam's Meat Market, after it was looted during another night of rioting following protests over the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 16, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Alshalabi is carrying a firearm on his side in order to protect his property. Looters ransacked several businesses for several hours as police held a position nearby with military grade weapons and armored personnel carriers (APC). Violent outbreaks have taken place almost nightly in Ferguson since the shooting death of Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 24: Hundreds of demonstrators, many of them Howard University students, march down the middle of U Street Northwest after a grand jury did not intict the white police officer who killed an unarmed black teenager in Missouri November 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 25: People protest in Times Square over the Ferguson grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case November 25, 2014 in New York City. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson, MO police officer, on August 9. Violent protests erupted across the nation yesterday after the grand jury's verdict was announced, most notably in Ferguson, MO, where more than 25 buildings were burned down and stores were looted. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: A protestor stands in front of police vehicles with his hands up during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 13: Demonstrators listen to speakers during a rally on the campus of Saint Louis University on October 13, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted following the August 9, killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in suburban Ferguson. Another teenager, Vonderrit Myers Jr., Was killed by a St. Louis police officer on October 8. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)g (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 12: Demonstrators protesting the killings of 18-year-olds Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri Police officer and Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer are confronted by police wearing riot gear on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson following Brown's death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - OCTOBER 13: Demonstrators confront police outside the Ferguson police station on October 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to heal since riots erupted following the August 9, killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in suburban Ferguson. Another teenager, Vonderrit Myers Jr., was killed by a St. Louis police officer on October 8. Several demonstrators and members of the clergy were arrested at the protest after a show of civil disobedience. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A Ferguson firefighter surveys rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 12: Plywood covers the glass front of a strip mall along West Florissant Street on November 12, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Many businesses along West Florissant are boarded-up as residents prepare for the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Many of the stores along the street were looted and vandalized during rioting which broke out after Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer. The city is hoping to avoid a repeat of those riots if the grand jury investigating the shooting does not find justification to prosecute Wilson. The grand jury's decision is expected sometime in November. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A sign sits amidst rubble at a building that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri. Demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas last night after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 09: Demonstrators march through the streets protesting the October 8 killing of 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. by an off duty St. Louis police officer on October 9, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis area has been struggling to heal since riots erupted in suburban Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer on August 9. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 26: Police stand guard as protests engulf Ferguson on November 26, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Over 2,000 Missouri national guardsmen are being deployed a day after demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas following a St. Louis County grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
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Shortly after Brown's death, local police released security-camera video of Brown visiting the same store in the daytime, a few minutes before he was shot. That footage, which now appears to depict the second of two visits to the Ferguson Market and Liquor store by Brown within a span of a few hours, showed Brown pushing a worker before walking out with cigarillos in an apparent robbery.

Brown's family and protesters had criticized the release of the video as an effort to demonize the teenager.

Witnesses have given conflicting accounts of Brown's encounter a short time later with police officer Darren Wilson. Local and federal investigations cleared Wilson of criminal wrongdoing.

SEE ALSO: Trayvon Martin's parents, five years after shooting, consider political moves

The new video, which appears in the documentary "Stranger Fruit," shows Brown in an earlier, seemingly more amicable exchange.

It shows him giving store employees what appears to be a small bag, the contents of which the staff pass around and sniff. One employee gives Brown two boxes of cigarillos in a carrier bag.

Brown takes a few steps away before turning back and handing the bag back to an employee who appears to stash it behind the counter.

Jason Pollock, the documentary filmmaker, said the video showed Brown exchanging marijuana for cigarillos and undermined the police account that Brown may have robbed the store.

"He left his items at the store and he went back the next day to pick them up," Pollock says in the documentary. "Mike did not rob the store."

'NO TRANSACTION'

Robert McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, dismissed Pollock's account as "pathetic."

"There was no transaction. There was certainly an attempt to barter for these goods, but the store employees had no involvement at all in that," McCulloch told a news conference on Monday. The clerks did nothing wrong, he added, and were not safeguarding the cigarillos for Brown.

McCulloch said he would release unedited video from the store showing that the clerks replaced the items returned by Brown, which he said undermined the idea there had been any trade.

Jay Kanzler, a lawyer for the convenience store, also disputed the filmmaker's explanation.

"The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back," Kanzler was quoted as saying by the New York Times. He did not respond to a request for comment.

About 100 protesters, who saw the video as exonerating Brown, gathered on Sunday night at the store, which was protected by a couple of hundred police officers.

The protest was largely peaceful, although police arrested at least two people, a Reuters witness said, and an unknown person fired about half a dozen bullets into the air toward the end of the demonstration.

(Reporting by Lawrence Bryant in Ferguson, Mo., Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Jonathan Allen in New York; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Peter Cooney)

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