The anti-police rhetoric and street fervor in Ferguson has reached such a pitch over the last several days (and not without dozens of belligerent provocations from the authorities) that it doesn’t seem possible that the “Michael Brown got shot by a racist cop because he was black” crowd can ever consider much less accept a different scenario. But recent reports from St. Louis Post Dispatch crime reporter Christine Byers and’s Hollie McKay seem to be puncturing the anti-cop, Brown-basically-died-from-brutal-attitudes narrative. I’ve assumed all along that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson beat cop with a reportedly blemish-free record who shot Brown six times and wasted him with a shot to the head, almost certainly fired in a state of fear and possibly panic. Does it make any sense at all that he’d fire six times while Brown passively stood or kneeled with his hands up?

Byers and McKay have reported that Wilson had been seriously beaten (an “orbital or eye socket fracture”) by Brown and had good reason to be afraid and that his panicked reaction, while clearly excessive and quite possibly criminal, was provoked by raging-bull behavior from a 6’4″ linebacker. Add this to Brown’s belligerent actions in that grocery-store shoplifting video and it all starts to add up. Do I know for a fact that Brown more or less bought what happened with his own rage (which was no doubt created by and amply fueled by years of racist behavior by the local fuzz)? No, but the evidentiary ground is shifting and the conventional narrative is clearly changing. I know, I know — Byers is an unreliable loose cannon and McKay is a racist Fox News stooge…right?

To my personal horror I actually found myself not precisely agreeing with but not strenuously disagreeing with a Bill O’Reilly rant [see below] that I watched this morning.