The release of the convenience store surveillance video by the Ferguson police was a remarkable accomplishment in changing the narrative by appealing to racial stereotypes centred around the young black male "thug". No matter what facts are yet to be determined, the cultural impact will be to further solidify already established divides and to ensure that attempts at dialogue are frustrated by competing and mutually exclusive world views.
The police presentation emphasized a rarely used technical term - strong-arm robbery - which predetermined how the video and select stills would be viewed. Therefore, while a dispute which clearly featured a shove occurred, the context or interpretation of this event relies on a police report written sometime after the fact (Brown is identified by name) and which cites only two witnesses, both store employees. The other witnesses seen in the video do not react in a manner which suggest a violent assault and robbery is occurring. The suspect Brown actually returns items to the store counter, as does his friend.
The items by which it is alleged he steals had fallen to the floor and Brown leans over to pick them up. It is, in other words, a strange sort of robbery. The assault is limited to a shove as the store employee tries to prevent him from the door. The police had over five days to talk to the other witnesses and establish a clearer picture of what happened. There is no indication they had done so.
I don't know what happened in that store, but a review of the surveillance video suggests that the dispute which did occur may be something a little less than what is claimed. If so, then the now ingrained image of Brown as a "thug" may not be correct. The manner of the release of the tape has encouraged both a racially biased backlash and support for the notion that the police officer involved in the later shooting was first assaulted by Brown, an element to the incident claimed only by the police.