Ferguson officer Darren Wilson's grand jury testimony: 7 revelations
Police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown gave his account of what happened Aug. 9
Following the announcement Monday night that the grand jury chose not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch took the unusual step of publicly releasing evidence that was presented to the 12 jurors.
The documents contain transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, including Wilson's testimony.
The transcript provides the first detailed account of what Wilson says happened that day.
His version of events is contradicted by some witnesses who were interviewed, and it contains some revealing details about what he was thinking and what he did that summer day on Aug. 9 when a life was lost and others were changed forever.
1. Why Wilson wasn't carrying a Taser
Wilson testified that on his duty belt he had his gun, a magazine pouch, an extendable baton, Mace, two sets of handcuffs and his radio. There was a flashlight on the passenger side of the car. Why no Taser? "I normally don't carry a Taser. We only have a select amount. Usually there is one available but I elect not to carry one. It is not the most comfortable thing. They are very large, I don't have a lot of room in the front for it to be positioned."
2. Why Wilson reached for his gun instead of his Mace
Wilson testified that Brown struck him through the open car window. He recalls thinking about what to do next and said he considered using his Mace, but didn't want to sacrifice one of his hands to reach for it, because he was using it to defend his face. He didn't think he could spray Brown with it anyway and was worried that the chemicals would get in his own eyes — he wears contacts — and he wouldn't be able to see. He says he considered the baton and flashlight options and concluded he couldn't easily reach them and they wouldn't be effective. "So the only other option I thought I had was my gun."
3. Wilson's gun jammed
Wilson testified that as soon as he drew his weapon Brown reached for it and grabbed hold of it, trying to get his finger around the trigger. They struggled over the gun and Wilson pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. "I pull it again, it just clicked again," he testified. The third time he pulled the trigger it went off. As the struggle continued. Wilson pulled the trigger again and the gun jammed a third time. He tried again and successfully fired a second shot. After that, Brown ran away from the car window.
4. What Wilson did after the shooting
"I had to kill him," Wilson told his sergeant who quickly arrived at the scene. Wilson was told to sit in his car but he refused, saying, "It is already getting hostile, I can't be singled out in the car." Wilson offered to leave the scene instead. His sergeant agreed and Wilson then drove his sergeant's car to the police station.
Wilson testified that he was in shock, thinking about how the situation escalated so quickly. It began with Wilson telling Brown to walk on the sidewalk instead of in the middle of the street and ended with Brown lying dead on that street. Once at the station, Wilson said, he went to the washroom and cleaned up: "I had blood on my hands." Brown's blood, he believes.
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Wilson then put gloves on, took his gun out of his holster and sealed it in an evidence envelope.
He called the lawyer for the police union and then went to the hospital. Wilson was given X-rays and painkillers for a swollen face and then returned to the police station, where he was given a change of clothes before he went home. During this time he was interviewed by a detective and his clothes were taken as evidence.
5. Why Wilson didn't stay in his car and wait for backup
According to Wilson's account, Brown had assaulted him and tried to grab his gun, so why did he chase after him instead of waiting for the backup which he had requested in a radio call? Wilson testified that he was trying to buy time and planned to keep his distance from Brown, thinking his backup would be there within 20 to 30 seconds. But why get out of the car instead of tracking Brown's movements from within it? Wilson said his comfort zone is not to be in his car talking to someone, and he prefers to be out of it so that if he needs to run, he can run.
6. Wilson's account of the fatal shot
Wilson testified that he and Brown were running down the street, when Brown stopped and turned around. Wilson told him to get on the ground but he ignored the command. Wilson said Brown, with one hand reaching under his shirt, made a grunting sound and began to run toward him, and Wilson fired several shots.
Wilson said he believed a bullet hit Brown, but it didn't stop him and he was still moving forward and ignoring his commands to stop, so he fired again. Wilson said that when they were about "eight to ten feet" apart he was backing up when Brown leaned forward like he was about to tackle. Wilson said he saw Brown's head and that's what he shot. "I saw the last one go into him." Brown's face went blank and he fell to the ground. "The threat was stopped," Wilson said.
7. Why Wilson felt he needed to use deadly force
Wilson said Brown landed at least two punches on him and given Brown's size (6-4 and 285 pounds) he feared a third punch could be a fatal blow. Even though he is about the same height and also over 200 pounds Wilson said he felt outsized by Brown when they struggled through the car window: "The only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan … that's just how big he felt, and how small I felt just from grasping his arm."
Wilson described Brown's face as intensely angry, "like a demon." Brown had tried to get control of his gun and even after he ran away Wilson believed he was still a threat, because he had assaulted him and was capable of doing that to someone else. Wilson testified that he felt his life was in danger when Brown was coming toward him and that the use of deadly force was justified: "I know if he reaches me, he'll kill me."