Darren Wilson's Grand Jury Testimony

Darren Wilson
This St. Louis County Prosecutor's office photo of Darren Wilson, taken shortly after the August 9, 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, was presented to the grand jury and made available on November 24, 2014. Reuters

Last night, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri did not indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed African American teenager Michael Brown. After the announcement, transcripts of the usually secret grand jury testimony were made public, totaling 24 volumes of notes across 23 meetings and three months. Normally, the files would remain secret in the case of non-indictment.

Among the 24 volumes was Darren Wilson's testimony. Wilson began by describing his police uniform and his official department vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe. Before encountering Brown, he was called to the scene of a sick infant, who was then transported to the hospital. After that call, Wilson overheard on his radio the details of a robbery but was not called to investigate it.

Wilson first came across Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson when he said the men were walking in the street, blocking traffic, rather than on the side walk. He told them: "Why don't you guys walk on the sidewalk?" Johnson replied: "We are almost to our destination." Wilson asked again: "Well, what's wrong with the sidewalk?" According to Wilson, Brown replied: "Fuck what you have to say."

Noticing Brown was holding Cigarillos and Johnson's attire matched the description of those involved in the robbery he had earlier heard over his radio, Wilson suspected these were the men involved and called for backup. Wilson described the area in which he first confronted Brown and Johnson as "antipolice."

"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," he said.

"My main goal was to keep eyes on [Brown] and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there," Wilson testified. "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, that was my original goal when I tried to get him to come to the car. If I could 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."

Until that day, Wilson had never fired his police gun on duty before. His weapon was a Sig Sauer P229 .40 caliber gun, and he was also carrying mace. He was not carrying a stun gun, citing a limited supply of the weapons at the department and discomfort while wearing it.

The altercation began when Wilson attempted to bring Brown over to his vehicle. "Hey, come here for a minute," Wilson said. Wilson said Brown then faced him saying: "What the fuck are you going to do about it," and slammed the car door. "I then opened my door again and used my door to push him backwards, and while I'm doing that I tell him to 'get the fuck back,' and then I use my door to push him. He then grabs my door again and shuts my door."

Shortly thereafter, Wilson testified that Brown punched him. "I felt that another of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse. I mean it was he's obviously bigger than I was and stronger.… I've already taken two to the face, and I didn't think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right." Wilson was later treated for a bruised face and prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication. Wilson said during the altercation he felt "like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan".

Wilson described considering different weapons to use. He decided against grabbing mace because he would've had to move his left hand, which was blocking his face from Brown's punches at that moment. He also considered using his baton, "but to get that out since I kind of sit on it, I usually have to lean forward and pull myself forward to the steering wheel to get it out. Again, I wasn't willing to let go of the one defense I had against being hit." Wilson also considered using his flashlight, but it was on the passenger side of his car, out of easy reach. Wilson then drew his gun. "So the only other option I thought I had was my gun. I drew my gun. I turned.… He is standing here. I said, 'Get back, or I'm going to shoot you.'" Wilson then testified that Brown grabbed the gun and told him, "You are too much of a pussy to shoot me." Later, Wilson said, "I can feel his fingers try to get inside the trigger guard with my finger."

Following this altercation, 12 shots were fired (the gun holds a maximum of 13 and one bullet was later confirmed to be in the weapon following the incident). Wilson said two shots were fired in his car, then three more as he chased Brown. After the initial two shots, Wilson called for backup again. At one point during the chase, Wilson said he saw Brown put his hand under his shirt toward his waistband.

Wilson described the shooting: "As he is coming towards me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn't. I shoot a series of shots. I don't know how many I shot, I just know I shot it. I know I missed a couple, I don't know how many, but I know I hit him at least once because I saw his body kind of jerk or flinched. I remember having tunnel vision on his right hand, that's all, I'm just focusing on that hand when I was shooting. Well, after the last shot my tunnel vision kind of opened up. I remember seeing the smoke from the gun and I kind of looked at him and he's still coming at me, he hadn't slowed down. At this point I start backpedaling and again, I tell him get on the ground, get on the ground; he doesn't. I shoot another round of shots. Again, I don't recall how many him every time. I know at least once because he flinched again. At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I'm shooting at him. And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn't even there, I wasn't even anything in his way."

Then, Wilson realized he fired the fatal shot: "He gets about that eight to 10 feet away, I look down, I remember looking at my sights and firing. All I see is his head, and that's what I shot. I don't know how many, I know at least once because I saw the last one go into him. And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, it was gone, I mean, I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped. When he fell, he fell on his face."

Wilson then called for backup once more. A crowd began to gather around Brown's body and Wilson drove off to the police station. "I really didn't believe it, because like I said, the whole thing started over will you just walk on the sidewalk, and it developed into that in 45 seconds."