The Dark Truth: Michael Brown’s mother tells of her violent abuse at the hands of his father
The Dark Truth: Michael Brown’s mother tells of her violent abuse at the hands of his father
The father of the black teenager shot dead by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri, was a violent abuser who once forced a shotgun into the boy’s mother’s mouth during a fight, she claims in a new book.
Michael Brown Sr left Lezley McSpadden fearing she would die when he pushed the firearm so far down her throat that she choked on it, she writes.
In her memoir, she writes that she could hear their two children crying downstairs and thought: ‘God, please don’t let me kids see this. God, don’t let this man kill me.’
Their relationship was a ‘ticking time bomb’, she said, claiming that Brown Sr was so controlling and paranoid that he once tried to strangle McSpadden in a jealous rage.
In another terrifying incident, he is said to have smashed the windshield of her car with his fist and beat her in front of their son.
While McSpadden was working two jobs to support their family, she claims that Brown Sr was lazy and cheated on her with other women.
The unflinching account is the most detailed yet of how the younger Brown was brought up.
He was shot dead at the age of 18 in August 2014 in Ferguson, a northern suburb of St Louis, after an altercation with Officer Darren Wilson.
The killing sparked more than a week of violent unrest and looting, which returned when a Grand Jury decided not to indict Wilson.
Since then there has been a national debate on police violence and an unprecedented focus on killings of black people by law enforcement.
In her memoir, Tell the truth & Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy and Love of My Son Michael Brown, McSpadden, 36, says that her life was troubled from the start.
She was raised in a single-parent home and her mother worked more than one job to support McSpadden and her brother and sister.
She moved out of home for a while and lived with her grandmother, got into fights and was once threatened with a gun on her porch.
McSpadden never finished high school, something she admits is one of the most ‘uncomfortable and embarrassing facts about my life’.
The main reason was that at 16 she gave birth to Brown, whose full name is Michael Orlandus Darrion Brown, and whose father is Brown Sr.
McSpadden claims that from the one time she had sex with Brown, she lost her virginity and got pregnant.
It was over the Fourth of July weekend in 1997, just after Brown’s first birthday, that his father hit McSpadden for the first time.
She writes that their relationship ‘took a turn that shamed me to my core’ when they fought about his friends firing fireworks at her while messing around.
The book says: ‘All of a sudden Mike got quiet and kicked me with all his might in my leg.
”Ouch! Did you just f*****g kick me?’ I winced, stumbled then kicked him right back,’ she writes. ‘His fist immediately barreled into my back. I punched him in return. Next thing you know we were swinging at each other.’
A friend broke it up but they fought again later when McSpadden was on the phone with some old friends.
Brown Sr, now 38, shouted at her, ‘Who the f*** is this?’ and was so angry that ‘the veins bulged in his neck’.
McSpadden writes: ‘Before I could finish my sentence, his hands were around my neck.
‘Mike yanked me by my neck and lifted me into the air and threw me across the room. I fell, then instantly jumped back up, confused and dazed’.
Brown Sr apologized and said he loved her, but McSpadden had already begun to see him differently.
McSpadden writes that she would take their son to see Brown Sr almost every day – she was still living with her mother at this stage.
On one occasion she brought their son over and they ‘got into it’.
The book says: ‘I just wanted to leave but he had it in his mind that he was going to force me to stay. I broke free from his grip and ran out of [his mother’s] house and jumped into my car, quickly starting the engine.
‘Mike was hot on my heels. Before I could shift the car in reverse Mike was pounding his hand on the driver’s window.’
Brown Sr demanded that she open the door and when she refused he smashed the windshield with his fist.
She didn’t have enough money to fix the glass, so she continued to drive her car with a broken windshield, she writes.
McSpadden made ends meet by working any job she could find, including mopping the floors at a nursing home.
She writes that Brown Sr did not appear to have any job and was cheating on her – even though she was pregnant with his second child.
McSpadden says that on one occasion, while on the way to pick up her son, she saw Brown Sr in his car with another woman in the passenger seat.
She writes: ‘Heat surged through my body. Here I was, the mother of his child, pregnant with another one of his babies, busting my ass going to work, trying to do right by him, and he had some heifer in his car.’
She tried to chase after him but was pulled over by the police for her broken windshield.
McSpadden, who was 19 at this point, says that all she wanted to do was keep the peace during the rest of her pregnancy.
But Brown Sr shouted at her – even in front of their son.
During one row Brown, who was just two years old, teared up and said: ‘Mama, what’s wrong? It’s too loud. I’m scared!’
McSpadden writes that she told his father: ‘Mike, you gots ta go. You want a fight and I can’t give you one. You need to leave, we can’t be doin’ this in front of this boy.’
She told her son to leave the room but he just went to the other side. The boy shouted: ‘Mama! Daddy! Mama!’ as his father pushed his mother into the TV.
He then watched as his father pushed his mother into a wall. The boy ran to McSpadden and was ‘freaked out’ and was ‘darting from side to side’.
It was Brown who called 911 for his own mother, who was taken to hospital and had her arm put into a cast.
By the time their second child, Deja, arrived, McSpadden and Brown Sr were living together.
But the crunch came when he refused to get a job and sat at home watching TV while she worked two jobs to keep them afloat.
McSpadden asked Brown Sr to move out but when he came to collect his stuff they started fighting.
She says that she told him to leave, but he told her: ‘Shut the f*** up’.
According to the book, he dragged her into the bedroom, reached into the closet and pulled out a double barreled shotgun.
McSpadden writes: ‘”What the f*** you sayin’ now?” he said, training the gun on me. My eyes went wide. I didn’t even know he owned a gun.
‘”Mike, what you doin’?” I screamed, and we began to wrestle. I knew if I was going to make it out that room, I had to fight.’
McSpadden writes that the faces of her children flashed through her head as he ‘slammed me down on the bed and shoved the barrel of the shotgun against my throat’.
She writes: ‘He started to choke me with it. I was gasping for breath. I could hear my babies screaming in the background.
‘Tears flowed down my face. God, please don’t let me kids see this. God, don’t let this man kill me.’
She wriggled free and ran out of the house with her children.
McSpadden writes that the last time Brown Sr hit her was after she had dropped off their children at his mother’s house.
She writes that Brown Sr wrenched open the passenger door of her car, punched her and said: ‘So now you just gon’ be out like some ho?’
He yanked her wig off and told her: ‘F*** you’, and she responded: ‘You feel like a man now Mike? You got your s*** off now?’
McSpadden would go on to have two more children with her second boyfriend Andre before he was beaten to death in a robbery.
She then met Louis Head, her current partner, who became Brown’s stepfather until the teen was shot dead on August 9, 2014.
The day Brown was killed, McSpadden was alerted to the tragedy by a friend called Mario calling her saying: ‘Lezley, somebody been shot on Canfield (Drive), and he just laying there’.
Lezley ‘straightened up’ as that was the area where her son had been staying with his grandmother.
She said: ‘Mario, please describe him to me’ but Mario could not see the body as there were too many people in the way.
Just then she got another call from her sister Brittanie who ‘broke down moaning and sobbing’.
She said: ‘The police just shot Mike Mike’, the family’s nickname for Brown.
McSpadden writes: ‘I heard her but my mind wasn’t trying to understand nothing like that. I quietly started gasping for air. What she had just said was trapped between my ears like some muddy standing water… a gust of wind shot through my body, and then lightning.’
A friend drove her to the scene and she saw the body under a white sheet. On the ground next to it was St Louis Cardinals baseball hat – the same one her son wore.
McSpadden tried to push her way through but the police would not let her pass their inner cordon.
She writes in her memoir: ‘I felt like I was being swallowed up, my feet sinking into the pavement like it was quicksand.’
Then the reality finally hit her: It was ‘my son under that sheet, my son’s yellow sock sticking out, my son’s Cardinal’s hat, my son’s finger.’
McSpadden says she shouted out: ‘Where is he? Where’s the one that did this to my child?’ and ran towards the line of police.
She writes that she screamed at them: ‘Y’all motherf****rs gonna have to answer to this’. One officer replied: ‘Well, we some good motherf****rs’
Nearly two years later, McSpadden’s rage has calmed and she is now philosophical about her son’s life.
McSpadden writes: ‘God let me have Mike Mike for 18 years. He wouldn’t let me have him longer because He had other plans for us.
‘Those plans are still being revealed to us, but I believe d a big part of His plan was to wake people up to some things in the world that need changing. I’m ready though, for whatever He has in store’.
Daily Mail Online has reached out to lawyers for Brown Sr for comment.
Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil: The life, Legacy and Love of My Son Michael Brown is on sale on Amazon.