clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who is Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown?

Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9.

Wilson had been a police officer for six years in Ferguson and nearby Jennings. Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department shortly after a grand jury decided not to indict him for the Brown shooting.

Wilson’s first police job in Jennings was in a police force so dysfunctional and so mired by tensions between white officers and black residents that the local government disbanded the department and fired every officer, according to the Washington Post. The Jennings City Council then brought in entirely new officers to start a credible police department from scratch.

Wilson has no disciplinary actions on his record, according to Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. The police chief also described Wilson as a “gentle, quiet man” and “a distinguished officer.”

After the shooting, video footage was released purportedly showing Wilson in 2013 arresting a man, Mike Arman, for recording the officer without his permission. The video footage disproved some of Wilson’s claims about the encounter, and the charges against Arman were ultimately dropped.

On August 9, Wilson was leaving from a previous call when he stopped Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, for jaywalking. The situation escalated, with conflicting reports on what led to the fatal shooting and how it played out.

Wilson said Brown was violent throughout the encounter. He said the 18-year-old tried to take his gun and charged at him through a hail of gunfire. Wilson characterized Brown as a demon-like, dead-eyed giant — a comparison some have linked to racial stereotypes historically deployed by police to justify use of force against black men and boys.

In an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Wilson said he has a clean conscience about the shooting. While Wilson said he felt sorry for Brown’s family, he said he was just doing his job and wouldn’t do anything differently.

There have been some protests in support of Wilson, with protesters saying Wilson is being victimized for ”doing his job.” The pro-Wilson support group even started a GoFundMe and T-shirt campaign to help the officer in case he incurs legal fees due to his prosecution, as Slate’s Dave Weigel reported.