Details of Officer Wilson’s answers to questions from Prosecutors and Grand Jury members.
This post focuses on the second-half of Police Officer’s testimony before the Grand Jury, during which he is responding to direct questions from both the Prosecutors present (Whirley and Alizadeh) as well as from individual Grand Jury members.
This portion of the testimony also covers the relevant post-shooting events.
The first half of Wilson’s testimony before the Grand Jury consisted of his narrative of events, and was covered in yesterday’s post here: #Ferguson Grand Jury evidence: Police Officer’s Account of Shooting.
It bears mentioning again that Officer Wilson was not compelled to testify before the Grand Jury, but rather volunteered to do so. He did so knowing he would not be permitted to be accompanied by legal counsel during his testimony.
As was done in yesterday’s post, below is an abridged version of the testimony, to ease reading through the material. The full-text of the testimony is embedded at the bottom of this post in the form of a PDF of the official Grand Jury transcript.
One observation comes immediately to mind as I’ve had the opportunity to both carefully review Wilson’s September 26 testimony before the Grand Jury as well as watch him recount events in his November 25 ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos, and that is the utter consistently between the two accounts. This stands in sharp contrast to the very often wildly varying testimony of “pro-Brown” witnesses before the Grand Jury.
Another is how quickly the scene around the shooting became charged with hostility and rage among the gathering crowd, to the degree that it was felt unsafe to have Wilson sit in a patrol car while the scene was secured. Instead, his supervisor gave Wilson his own duty vehicle to drive back to the police station.
Third is the degree to which at least some of the jurors appear openly hostile to Wilson, deliberately attempting to cast events into acts of malfeasance.
For example, one of these jurors contests at length Wilson’s statement that Brown was in “complete control” of his service pistol, because Wilson also still had a hand on the gun. This despite Wilson’s testimony that Brown had forced the muzzle of the pistol against Wilson’s hip and was attempting to place his finger over Wilson’s on the trigger so that he could discharge the weapon into Wilson’s body.
Whirley: All right. So you’re in the car, you fire two shots and he’s running and you get out of the car to chase after him and tell us your rationale, what you are thinking now?
Wilson: My main goal was to keep eyes on him and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there. I knew I had already called for backup and I knew they were already in the area for the stealing that was originally reported. So I thought if I can buy 30 seconds of time, someone else will be here, we can make the arrest, nothing happens, we are all good. And it didn’t happen that way.
So when he ran, you know, just stay with him, someone is going to be here, you know, we’ll get him.
Whirley: So you got out of the car, you are running, you are telling him to stop; is that right?
Whirley: and he’s not listening?
Wilson: No, not until he gets to that light pole, and that’s when he stopped.
Whirley: Are you firing at him as he’s running.
Wilson: No, ma’am.
Whirley: Any idea what happened to make him turn around or he just all of the sudden turns around.
Wilson: No, just turns round. His whole reaction to the whole thing was something I’ve never seen. I’ve never seen that much aggression so quickly from a simple request to just walk on the sidewalk.
Wilson: At that time my sergeant pulled up and I walked over to him. I don’t remember what started the conversation, he said something first, but I said I have to tell you what happened. And he goes, what happened?
I said, I had to kill him.
He goes, you what?
I said, he grabbed my gun, I shot him, I killed him.
He goes, go sit in the car.
I said, I cannot sit in the car.
I remember him saying, Darren, sit in the car.
I said, Sarge, I can’t be singled out. It is already getting hostile. I can’t be singled out in the car. I will leave if you want me to leave.
He said, take my car and leave. So I got in his car and I drove to the police station.
Whirley: In your mind, him grabbing the gun is what made the difference where you felt you had to use a weapon to stop him?
Wilson: Yes. Once he was hitting me in the face, that enough, was in my mind to authorize the use of force.
Whirley: Okay. So if he would not have grabbed your gun while he was hitting you in the face, everything was the same, but he would not have grabbed the gun, you still would have used deadly force?
Wilson: My gun was already being presented as a deadly force option while he was hitting me in the face.
Whirley: Did you guys [the police] have a volatile, well, how can I put this. Did you not really get along well with the folks that lived in that apartment, not you personally, I mean the police in general?
Wilson: It is an antipolice area for sure.
Whirley: And when you say antipolice, tell me more?
Wilson: There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity, it is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.
Whirley: Were you pretty much on high alert being in that community by yourself, especially when Michael Brown said, “fuck what you say?”
Wilson: Yes, that’s not an area where you can take anything really lightly. Like I said, it is a hostile environment. There are good people over there, there really are, but I mean there is an influx of gang activity in that area.
Whirley: When you first went out on your call to Canfield Green, you said, I’m going out Frank 21?
Wilson: I said, “Frank 21, I’m on Canfield with two, send me another car.”
Whirley: It wasn’t a stressful situation at that point?
Wilson: No, it wasn’t, but I just had that gut feeling that someone else needed to be there and knowing that his guy just stole form the market because I saw the Cigarillos and had the black shirt, I felt that in order to affect the arrest, it would be better to have.
Whirley: You asked for this other car before any words were exchanged, correct?
Wilson: No, he had already told me, “fuck what you have to say.”
Wilson: I asked [redacted] to go get me a pair of gloves, [I] put the gloves on. I grab an evidence envelop, take my gun out of the holster, make it safe. I lock the slide back, take the magazine out, take the one round’s that’s left in it out. I put it all in that bag, seal it with evidence tape and then sign it.
Whirley: And you handled your gun at that time with gloves on?
Whirley: And why did you do that?
Wilson: To preserve any evidence on there, I knew his DNA was on that gun.
Whirley: How did you know his DNA was on the gun?
Wilson: When I first took it out, without even looking at it, I knew that he had fingerprints on it and possibly even sweat from, it was a warmer that day so, and he could have sweat on it. When I took it out, I also saw blood on it.
Whirley: And that could have been from when you shot him?
Whirley: So you made, but you knew to make the gun safe and put in an evidence envelop based on your training and experience?
Wilson: Yes, I was just trying to preserve all the evidence I could on the weapon. And I knew if I put it in an evidence envelop and sealed it, that it would have no other contact with anybody and it could be as preserved as you could get.
Whirley: Okay. All right. And then what?
Wilson: I sat down and called for my attorney, who represents police for the union. He said he would be on his way.
Officer [redacted] came in. He said, would you like to tell me what happened so I can tell the media? I said, no, I don’t want to talk right now.
Wilson: About 20 minutes later is when my attorney, showed up and we talked for about 10 or 15 minutes.
My assistant chief showed up, he came in and he made the determination that we should go to the hospital, he could see the swelling on my face.
So he drove, before we left, Detective [redacted] from St. Louis County [Police Department] arrived, informed us he would be investigating the case and kind of gave us the rundown of what to expect.
Whirley: Okay. And those photos that we looked at a minute ago were you at the hospital, correct?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Whirley: And then what happened?
Wilson: At the hospital we did the interview. And when I went to the hospital, I didn’t wear my uniform shirt, I took that off and my vest off, left it at the station, left my duty belt at the station.
Whirley: Did someone tell you to do that?
Wilson: Yeah, and I felt more comfortable too because I obviously can’t wear my gun, and I don’t want to be in uniform after all of this without it. [emphasis added—AFB]
Whirley: Any other incidents where you have been involved where you had to use excessive force?
Wilson: I’ve never used my weapon before.
Whirley: Not excessive force, where you have had to use force to affect an arrest?
Wilson: I’ve used my asp [expandable baton] before, I have used my flashlight before and I have used OC [pepper spray] before.
Whirley: Okay. And in those incidents though, no one was injured?
At this point Wilson begins to take questions directly from the Grand Jury members, all of whose identities are, of course, redacted. Accordingly, I have simply labelled these queries as “GJ.” I’ve made my own guesses as to when questions came from different Grand Jury members, as indicated by breaks below.
GJ: I just, hopeful you don’t take any offense, I just have a question. You worked for Pine Lawn for eight hours, Jennings, you worked for Ferguson?
GJ: Have you always worked in predominantly African-American neighborhoods?
Wilson: Yes, I have.
GJ: No problem until this time?
GJ: I want to go back to when Sergeant [redacted] arrived there. You told him that you had to kill him. Was that the extent of your conversation or did you tell him sort of like you are telling us play by play what happened?
Wilson: No, it was very brief.
GJ: If you would go back to the contact in your car, after you had put it in reverse and reengaged to have a conversation, and Michael Brown reached into the car with his right hand and you said at a certain point that you looked in the mirror to see Dorian Johnson because that’s how you recognized him with his black shirt?
Wilson: I did that before the car was placed in reverse.
GJ: Go over that again with me, which mirror were you looking at?
Wilson: My driver’s side mirror on the outside of the car. Whenever they walked me and I saw the Cigarillos. I’d already say that Dorian Johnson had on a black shirt, but just to double-check myself to match up with what I heard Cigarillos had been stolen and a suspect wearing a black shirt, I looked to make sure the shirt was black. And then I canlled out for the assist car and then placedit in reverse and backed up to him.
GJ: Thank you.
Wilson: You’re welcome.
Alizadeh: Prior to today, at any time after this incident have you seen any reports of any kind, medical examiner’s reports, police reports, hospital reports, anything of that nature?
Wilson: the only report I’ve seen was the one released on the news about the initial stealing.
Alizadeh: Okay. So that is the Ferguson report that was filed in relation to the theft of the Cigarillos?
Alizadeh: The vehicle that you were in, I’m guessing that is not equipped with any cameras or mikes?
Wilson: No, it is not.
Alizadeh: Any of the Ferguson officer’s vehicles equipped with that type of equipment?
Wilson: No, ma’am.
Alizadeh: You don’t wear a body mike?
Wilson: No, ma’am.
Alizadeh: Now, your holster that you’ve described or your duty belt has the holster attached to it, correct?
Alizadeh: Is it the type of holster that there’s a snap that goes over the gun that you have to unsnap before the gun is removed from the holster?
Wilson: No, it doesn’t have the strap on the top, there is a button on the outside of it that you push as you are pulling up and it releases it.
Presumably he’s referencing a Sherpa holster.
Alizadeh: Okay. And is that something that, I mean, as a police officer, you have to train at the firing range, is that fair to say?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Alizadeh: And is part of your training learning how to quickly get your gun out of your holster?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Alizadeh: Did you ever grab ahold, you said that you grabbed ahold of his right hand at some point?
Wilson: It was like his forearm, it was this area.
Alizadeh: His right forearm?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Alizadeh: And what were you doing when you grabbed ahold of his right forearm?
Wilson: Trying to move him and somewhat control him so I could get out of the car.
Alizadeh: Were you ever pulling him to try to pull him into the vehicle?
Wilson: No, I was trying to open my car door with my left hand and then hold onto him as I did so.
Whirley: You said you knew the area and you felt threatned in that area because there is violence and guns and everything, and that Michael Brown was being confrontational before the first blow, correct?
Whirley: Is there any reason why you didn’t wait in the car until your backup came?
Wilson: I thought I would be able to just stall until someone got there. It hought if I can get out of the car, I could maintain the distance that I need to maintain, they were close. I figure all I needed was 20 or 30 seconds and someone is going to be there.
Whirley: Right. So why wouldn’t you stay in the car?
Wilson: Because I had already been, my comfort zone is not to be sitting in the car talking to someone else. I wanted to be out of the car, that way if I need to run I can run.
Whirley: You can run?
Wilson: If I was out and he started like chasing me or went to hit me, I could move.
Whirley: You are in a car, you are most mobile in a car than you are on foot, right?
Wilson: Right. But I also didn’t want him to run away, so I need to kind of stay where I can keep him there, keep myself safe and wait for someone to get there.
Alizadeh: Now, Officer Wilson, I’m not trying to get in your head, I mean, I guess we all are trying to get in your head at some point to know what you’re thinking at the time, but, I mean, your initial confrontation or your initial contact with them, I mean, you didn’t see any of them with weapons, correct?
Alizadeh: And they weren’t subjects that you knew to be armed and dangerous?
Alizadeh: And you stop and encounter pedestrians probably almost on a daily basis when you’re on patrol, would that be fair to say.
Alizadeh: And so did you at that point have any reason to anticipate that this, that Michael Brown, the Michael Brown subject was going to provoke or be, or assault you?
Wilson: No, not at that moment, no.
Alizadeh: You described the first shot, was his right hand on the gun when the shot went off?
Wilson: I believe so.
Alizadeh: And then the second shot, was his body in contact with you on the second shot?
Wilson: Probably not on the second one. I know when I first pulled the trigger it was, but it didn’t shoot and then that’s when I racked the gun and then shot again.
Alizadeh: And you used both hands, yo had to use both hands to rack the gun?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Alizadeh: Was he still trying to hit you when you went to rack the gun?
Wilson: I didn’t look up.
Alizadeh: Okay. So you said you did that without looking and then you just went like that?
Alizadeh: Turned your face away and shot out the window?
Alizadeh: In his general direction?
Alizadeh: And so you can’t really say whether his hands were inside the car or outside the car at the time you actually fired the second time, the second shot?
Wilson: No, I can’t tell you.
GJ: When Michael Brown, I guess, I guess at the point where I want to say it was the second shot, I know thi is kind of after the fact. You said he stepped back a little bit and then came back in on you?
Wilson: That was after the first shot.
GJ: Did you ever think about, I know you said your vehicle was running, did you ever just think about getting in that bad boy and drive?
Wilson: No, I didn’t. My thought is, I was still dealing with a threat at my car. You know, we’re trained not to run away from a threat, to deal with a threat, and that is what I was doing. That never entered my mind to flee.
GJ: Did you ever or do you recall grabbing Michael Brown by the throat?
Wilson: Never touched his throat.
Wilson: No. Only part of him I touched was his right forearm.
GJ: When Michael Brown was running from you, after the shots were fired within the car and they both just disappeared and you had Michael in focus, did you ever at any time fire with his back facing you?
Wilson: No, I did not.
GJ: When you asked him to halt, and he turned around and he, you know, stopped running, at any point did you ever think that okay, maybe he don’t have a gun, I need to stop shooting?
Wilson: When he was running towards me?
GJ: Throughout the whole process. You’re in the car and someone, you’re struggling, tugging back and forth, did you ever think that he had a gun right then and there, he could have used it at any time?
Wilson: I wasn’t thinking about that at that time. I was thinking about defending myself whenever he was hitting me in the car.
GJ: So kind of going go on that as well. So the comment that you made to your supervisor Sergeant [redacted] when he got there at the scene was that he went for my gun, I had to shoot him. I think that kind of goes along with that. Because I think when I hear someone say he went for my gun, if I literally take that comment, I would assume that someone literally went to your holster and tried to pull it out. Either unholstering it or literally taking it from you.
And in this instance that was not the case. You had already unholstered and you were aiming at him. He essentially in his, your point of view and the point of view of who we can no longer obtain that, he deflected or pushed it towards you, but he did not at any point try to pull it from your holster, is I guess, my question?
Wilson: He didn’t pull it from my holster, but whenever it was visible to him, he then took complete control of it. Because he had twisted it around so my hand was no longer this way, it was bent this way and it was dug into my hip. He had complete control of the weapon at that time.
GJ: Was your hand, I’m sorry, was your hand still on it and trigger on the trigger.
Wilson: Yes, sir.
GJ: I wouldn’t say he had complete control, I would say he had some control.
Wilson: He was controlling where it went, how it went there, and his trigger was in the process of going on the trigger with mine.
Wilson: I could feel his fingertips on my trigger trying to get in the trigger guard.
GJ: Okay. When I just hear the word complete control, I think it is entirely in his possession and none of yours, that’s the way I feel is complete control.
GJ: When you got back to the police department . . . did you ever think at what time that I need to write a report while it is fresh on my mind?
Wilson: No. The protocol is whenever you are involved in a significant use of force, that you contact your FOP representative and then he will advise you of what to do step by step because they are the clear head in that situation. They have not been through a traumatic experience.
Alizadeh: And I guess to be fair about this, any time any law enforcement officer has asked to speak to you, you have willingly and voluntarily come in and been interviewed and answered all their questions, is that fair to say?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Alizadeh: Have you ever like, did you afterwards, you know, write this out for your own, you know, therapeutic needs?
Wilson: My statement has been written for my attorney.
Alizadeh: Okay. And that’s between you and your attorney then?
Wilson: Correct. The department has not asked me for anything.
Alizadeh: So no one has asked you to write out a statement?
Wilson: No, they haven’t.
Alizadeh: You didn’t just on your own decide I want to write this down while it is all fresh in my mind, you didn’t do that yourself?
Alizadeh: Now, you know, I know you’ve probably thought about this every day since it’s happened, would that be fair to say?
Alizadeh: Replayed this in your mind over and over again?
Alizdeh: And do you think that after having really through about this over time and basically you’ve had to tell this scenario a few times, do you think that if there are additional details that you may not give initially, do you think that’s because you’re just now remembering them because you are putting so much though into what happened or do you think that this is things that maybe you kind of imagined happened, but didn’t really happen, you understand my question.
Wilson: Yeah, just from what I have been told about the incident originally, is that you are supposed to have 72 hours before you are actually officially interviewed, recorded statement and all of that. You tend to remember more through a couple of sleep cycles then what you do as soon as it happens. It is a traumatic event, a lot of details kind of come as one detail. I mean, from what I understand, there hasn’t been really anything significant that’s changed.
Alizadeh: So you think that when you were testifying today you said you kind of thought, had a thought process. As this chaotic scene is unfolding, do you recall actually in your mind processing this in the way you’ve described or is it all just reactionary?
Wilson: No, I remember actually, I picture a use of force triangle [sic, usually referred to as a “use of force pyramid”] in my head when this first happened and I was going through the progression of what I could do as far as the use of force continuum is concerned.
Alizadeh: This is something you learned in the police academy then?
Wilson: Yes, ma’am.
Alizadeh: And you recall actually thinking that as this assault is occurring?
Whirley: At what point did the use of force triangle come into your head, what was going on when you start seeing the triangle?
Wilson: Whenever I first start considering the spray, the taser. That was when I was being hit after the one to my face.
Whirley: So that was before you went for the weapon, or before you struggled over the weapon you started thinking about the use of force triangle? At any point did Michael Brown raise his hands?
GJ: Did you ever think while you were firing that you could have hit another innocent standbyer. (sic)
Wilson: When I originally fired the first time, when he turned around and I raised my weapon, I remember looking behind him and seeing nothing. I didn’t see a car, I didn’t see a person, there is nothing behind him. And after the first round of shots, I had tunnel vision on his hand. After that, when I refocused, I still don’t remember ever seeing anybody behind him.
GJ: I understand that you did an interview August 28th with [redacted] FBI agent; is that correct?
GJ: Okay. At which time, I hope I’m getting this correct, I believe that there was, did they present to you a photo lineup of suspects or whatever?
Wilson: The Department of Justice did not.
GJ: The Department of Justice did not, what about the FBI?
Oofah. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is, of course, part of the Department of Justice.
GJ: You felt like your life was in jeopardy when you were sitting in the vehicle?
GJ: You felt like when you exited the vehicle and the interaction with Michael Brown, he was advancing towards you, you felt like your life was in jeopardy?
GJ: And use of deadly force was justified at that point in your opinion?
Whirley: Is there something that we have not asked you that you want us to know or you think it is important for the jurors to consider regarding this incident?
Wilson: One thing you guys haven’t asked that has been asked of me in other interviews is, was he a threat, was Michael Brown a threat when he was running away. People asked why would you chase him if he was running away now.
I had already called for assistance. If someone arrives and sees him running, another officer and goes around the back half of the apartment complexes and tries to stop him, what would stop him from doing what he just did to me to him or worse, knowing he has already done it to one cop. And that was, he still posed a threat, not only to me, to anybody else that confronted him.
GJ: Along those lines, you feel like as a police officer it is your obligation to follow that suspect?
Wilson: Yes, sir.
OK, folks that’s it for this post. Next I’ll cover some of the more interesting of the other witnesses who testified before the Grand Jury, including the purported “eye witnesses.”
Here’s the PDF of the official transcript of this portion of Wilson’s testimony:
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