We may never know exactly why Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, but the grand jury’s decision suggests they generally agreed with Wilson’s version of events. As demonstrators took to the streets across the country on Monday night, prosecutors released thousands of pages of documents from the case, including transcripts of what Wilson told detectives on the morning after the shooting and in his grand jury testimony. Here’s why the officer used deadly force against Brown, in his own words.
In his initial statement to detectives, Wilson says that after responding to another call in the area, he heard about a robbery in progress at the Ferguson Market on West Florissant. He caught a brief description of the suspect, then noticed two young black men walking in the center of the road.
I pulled up to ‘em, stopped with them about at my hood as they kept walking towards me. I told ‘em, “Hey guys, why don’t you walk on the sidewalk.” The first one said, um, “we’re almost to our destination” and pointed this direction … I said “Okay, but what’s wrong with the sidewalk.” And then that was as they were passing my window the second subject said, “Fuck what you have to say.”
He tried to call for backup, then reversed about ten feet.
I go to open my door, say, “Hey, come here.” [Brown] said, “What the fuck are you gonna do?” And, he shut my door on me. The door was only open maybe a foot. I didn’t have chance to get my leg out. I shut the door and he came up and approached the door. I opened the door again trying to push him back tell him to get back. Um, he said something. I’m not sure exactly what it was and then started swinging and punching at me from outside the vehicle.
At this point Brown’s body was against his door, and Wilson claims he was leaning through the window and hitting him.
The first time he had struck me somewhere in this area but it was like glancing blow ‘cause I was able to defend a little bit. Um, after that he, I was doing the, just scrambling tryin’ to get his arms out of my face and him from grabbin’ me and everything else … He turned to his left and handed the first subject. He said, “Here take these.” He was holding a pack of several packs of cigarillos which was just what was stolen from the Market Store, was several packs of cigarillos. He said “Here hold these” and when he did that I grabbed his right arm tryin’ just to control something at that point. Um, as I was holdin’ it, and he came around he came around with his arm extended, fist made, and went like that straight at my face with his … a full swing with his left hand.
Um, after that it kinda jarred me back and I yelled at him numerous times to stop and get back. I believe somewhere in there I put my hand up trying’ to just get him away from me and there I was, I was already trapped and didn’t know what he was gonna do to me but I know it wasn’t gonna be good.
He couldn’t reach his mace or a flashlight, so instead Wilson drew his gun, said “Stop, I’m going to shoot you,” and ordered Brown to get on the ground.
He said, “you’re too much of a fuckin’ pussy to shoot me” and grabbed my gun. When he grabbed my gun, he twisted it, pointed at me and into my hip pelvic area.
Wilson says that as they were struggling over the gun, he pulled the trigger twice but it didn’t go off, possibly because Brown’s fingers were between the hammer and the slide. The third time he fired into the door and glass shot up.
[Brown] looked like he was shocked initially but, and he paused for a second and then he came back into my vehicle and attempted to hit me multiple times … Fist, grab, I mean just crazy. Just random, anything he could get a hold of swingin’ wildly.
Wilson fired again and missed, and when he looked up Brown was running down the street. He says he called for help again, not realizing that his radio was switched to the wrong channel in the struggle. Wilson exited his vehicle.
I was yelling at him to stop and get on the ground. He kept running and then eventually he stopped in this area somewhere. When he stopped, he turned, looked at me, made like a grunting noise and had the most intense aggressive face I’ve ever seen on a person. When he looked at me he then did like the hop … you know like people do to start running. And he started running at me. During his first stride he took his right hand put it under his shirt and into his waistband. And I ordered him to stop and get on the ground again. He didn’t. I fired multiple shots. After I fired the multiple shots I paused for a second, yelled at him to get on the ground again. He was still in the same state. Still charging hands still in his waistband, hadn’t slowed down. I fired another set of shots. Same thing, still running at me hadn’t slowed down, hands still in his waistband. He gets about eight to ten feet away, and he’s still coming at me in the same way. I fired more shots. One of those, however many of them hit him in the head and he went down right there. When he went down his hand was still under his, his right hand was still under his body, looked like it was still in his waistband. I never touched him.
Then Wilson got on the radio and said, “Send me every car we got and a supervisor.” That’s the end of Wilson’s initial account. When asked to clarify some points, he says Brown hit him more than ten times in the car, and at least two were “solid blows” to his face. He says while pursuing Brown, he never complied with his command to get on the ground. This is how he described Brown’s posture when he stopped running and turned around:
Very aggressive. Um, he is I don’t really know how to describe it. Um, he turns. I looked at his face. It was just intense. It was. I’ve never seen anybody look that, for lack of a better words, crazy, I’ve never seen that. I mean, it was very aggravated, um, aggressive, hostile. Just, you couldn’t, you could, you could tell he was lookin’ through ya. There was nothin’ he was seeing …
Later, Wilson described the incident again in his grand jury testimony. He says that after he shot through the car door, Brown “looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry he looked.”