The Washington Post is one of many media outlets which has opted to post copies of the evidence reviewed by the grand jury investigating the shooting death of strong-arm robbery suspect Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.
Of particular interest to many readers will be Officer Wilson’s testimony to the grand jury, which can be found starting on page 196 of Grand Jury Transcript Volume 5.
Feel free to read the entire transcript, or all of Wilson’s testimony at your leisure.
Summary of Wilson’s testimony
After being sworn in, Wilson notes (p. 197) that he is currently on administrative leave, and is appearing voluntarily. It is worth noting that an officer waiving his Fifth Amendment rights to testify in front of a grand jury is very uncommon.
Wilson is a certified police officer in the state of Missouri and all of his training and certifications are current (p. 198). He is 6’4″, 210 lbs (the same height as Micheal Brown, but 80 lbs lighter).
Prior to his encounter with Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson, Officer Wilson’s day had been completely uneventful. He was in the area responding to a sick child call and was responding with EMS, who then transported the mother and newborn with a fever to the hospital (p. 199-202). It was while he was completing this call to in Northwoods apartments that he first heard of the strong-arm robbery call. Two other units were dispatched to handle that call. Wilson was not. (p. 202).
Wilson was dressed in a normal police uniform and was driving a marked Ferguson police SUV ( a Chevrolet Tahoe) with light bar (p. 204). Wilson’s duty equipment included a Sig 229 .40 Smith & Wesson caliber pistol with a 12 round magazine, plus one round in the chamber for a total of 13 rounds in the gun. He carried two spare magazines on his belt, along with two pairs of handcuffs, an ASP baton, chemical spray, and his portable radio. The Ferguson Police Department does not have enough Tasers for every officer, and Wilson generally does not request them because they are large, bulky and uncomfortable to carry (p. 205-206).
After completing the sick child call, Wilson is leaving when he notices that two men, one much larger than the other, are walking down the double yellow centerline of Canfield Drive, impeding traffic (p. 207).
Wilson pulls up with his window down and suggests that Johnson and Brown move out of the road and use the sidewalk. Johnson informs Officer Wilson that they are almost to their destination, and continues walking down the middle of the road. Wilson replied, “Well, what’s wrong with using the sidewalk?” to which Michael Brown replied, “F**k what you have to say.” (p. 208).
It was at this point Brown drew Officer Wilson’s full attention, and he noticed that Michael Brown had a handful of Cigarillos, and that Dorian Johnson wore a black shirt. Wilson realized that the Johnson and Wilson matched the descriptions of the two strong-arm robbery suspects that two other officers had been dispatched to find (p. 209).
The two suspects kept walking past Wilson’s car. Wilson got on his radio and informed dispatch that he needed another car, then backed up his SUV past Johnson and Brown, then angled it to impede their progress and starts to open his door, saying to Brown, “Hey, come here a minute.” Brown then said, “What the f**k are you going to do about it,” and slammed the door shut (p. 209).
Wilson then tried to open the door again and push Brown away, exclaiming, “Get the f**k back.” Brown slammed the door shut a second time, and then threw a punch at Officer Wilson, striking him in the face. Wilson described the punch as a “full on swing, but not a full shot,” (p. 210) suggesting that Michael Brown put all of his 292 pounds into an attempted knock-out punch, but that he didn’t fully connect, and only struck a glancing blow.
Under Missouri law this justifies the use of deadly force.
After striking Officer Wilson, Brown handed the Cigarillos to Dorian Johnson and Wilson attempted and failed to gain control over Brown’s right arm. He described it as fruitless as “a five year old holding on to Hulk Hogan” (p. 212).
Wilson again attempted to open his door and escape the vehicle, but Brown blocked his escape and swung another full power punch and hit Wilson in the face again.
This again justifies the use of deadly force.
Officer Wilson began to run through his options, and ruled out his chemical spray because Brown’s hands were in front of his face (rendering the spray unlikely to hit his eyes and work), and the vehicle confines would likely result in Wilson getting the spray into his eyes as well. Wilson’s ASP baton was behind his right hip and trapped against the SUV’s seat, and even if he could deploy it, there wasn’t room to deploy and swing it with any force. He couldn’t use the flashlight on the passenger seat as an impact weapon either, for the same reason. There simply wasn’t enough room to swing it (p. 213-214).
Wilson decides that his only viable option is his gun
Wilson finally decides that he has to go for his handgun, the Sig P229 in .40 Smith & Wesson.
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