Warner Bros. has beat out several other studios to secure the rights to the memoir Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil: The Life, Legacy, and Love of My Son Michael Brown, written by Lezley McSpadden, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri back in 2014. Simon & Schuster published the memoir last year, which attracted interest from several unspecified studios, although Warner Bros. eventually acquired the rights. The studio is reportedly seeking a writer of color to adapt this book for a big screen biopic.
The Tracking Board first broke the news of this project today, revealing that the studio is aiming to craft this true story adaptation with the the same type of tone and theme as the 2005 Best Picture winner Crash. No producers have been attached to this project quite yet, and the studio hasn’t announced a production schedule or release plans yet. While it is still quite early for this project, it certainly may come together quickly, given the timely subject matter.
Michael Brown was shot and killed on August 9, 2014 by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, after the 18-year-old reportedly robbed a convenience store. The African-American teenager was unarmed at the time of the shooting, which sparked a national debate about racial tension, especially after witnesses stated that Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender. However, the U.S. Department of Justice did not deem those witnesses credible, which lead to the St. Louis County grand jury deciding not to indict Darren Wilson for the shooting, and the Department of Justice also ruled that Wilson shot Brown in self-defense.
Darren Wilson’s exoneration lead to nationwide protests, with the police officer resigning from the Ferguson police force in November 2015, stating that he did not want to put other officers at risk because of his presence. This shooting lead to the phrase “Hands up, Don’t Shoot” to be used as a rallying cry against police violence. Michael Brown’s family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Darren Wilson and the city of Ferguson, which was moved to federal court. While a federal judge dismissed five of the counts, two counts still remained with the trial beginning last month. This shooting also eventually lead to Delrish Moss, a Miami law enforcement veteran and community relations expert, being sworn in as the first permanent African American police chief in Ferguson, Missouri.
After losing her son, Michael Brown’s mother Lezley McSpadden founded The Michael O. D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation, an organization that advocates for justice, improving health, advancing education, and strengthening families. Lezley McSpadden also founded Rainbow of Mothers, which offers support to mothers after suffering the devastating loss of a child. It remains to be seen how quickly Warner Bros. plans on moving forward in development on Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, but that will depend on how quickly they find a writer to adapt this memoir.