Darren Wilson says he's sorry but his conscience is clear
Ferguson, Missouri, police Officer Darren Wilson, in his first interview since he fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, said he's not tormented by that fateful encounter on a street in suburban St. Louis last summer.
\"I don't think it's haunting,\" Wilson told ABC News on Tuesday. \"It's always going to be something that happened. The reason I have a clean conscience is that I know I did my job right.\"
Repeating what he told a grand jury investigating the shooting, Wilson said Brown reached into his police vehicle and grabbed for his gun. He feared for his life, he said.
It all started when Wilson asked the teenager to move out of the middle of the street, the officer told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Brown walked over to his car and pushed the door back as Wilson tried to get out, the officer said.
\"As I looked back at him, punches started flying,\" Wilson said in the interview, which aired Tuesday night. \"He threw the first one and hit me in the left side of my face.\"
Wilson doesn't know how many times he got hit.
\"I just know there was a barrage of swinging and grabbing and pulling for about 10 seconds,\" Wilson told ABC. \"I reached out my window with my right hand to grab on to his forearm.\"
Wilson said he wanted to move Brown away.
\"I just felt the immense power that he had. And then the way I've described it is, it was like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan. That's just how big this man was,\" Wilson said. \"He was very large, very powerful man.\"
Wilson is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds; Brown was the same height and weighed nearly 300 pounds.
Brown unleashed another punch and struck the officer in his face, Wilson said.
\"How do I survive,\" Wilson recalled thinking. \"I didn't know if I'd be able to survive another hit like that.\"
Wilson reached for his gun and told Brown to back off or he would shoot, the officer said.
\"You're too much of a (word bleeped) to shoot me,\" Wilson said Brown told him, before grabbing the top of the officer's gun.
Wilson tried to squeeze off two shots but the gun jammed twice.
Brown, he said, tried to reach the trigger guard to shoot Wilson. Wilson got a shot off on his third attempt, he said.
\"He gets even angrier,\" Wilson said. \"His aggression, his face, the intensity just increases. He comes back in at me again.\"
There was another shot, Wilson told ABC. The officer gets out of his car and goes after Brown, who turns around from 30 to 40 feet away.
Wilson said Brown reached into his waistband with one hand and made a fist with the other.
\"He starts charging me,\" Wilson said in the interview. \"My initial thought was, is there a weapon in there.\"
Wilson said Brown never had his hands up as if to surrender.
Brown charged at Wilson, the officer said.
\"I decide to shoot,\" he said \"I fired a series of shots and paused. I noticed at least one of them hit him. I don't know where. I saw his body kind of flinch a little.\"
Wilson said he paused again and commanded Brown to stop.
Brown kept coming. Wilson said he fired again and Brown flinched as if hit.
With Brown just 15 feet away, Wilson said, he backpedaled. Brown got closer and positioned himself to tackle the officer, according to Wilson, who then shot the teenager in the top of the head.
Wilson told ABC that he was sorry for the loss of life but that he was simply doing his job and following his training.
Wilson said he recently married.
\"We just want to have a normal life,\" he told ABC. \"That's it.\"
The death of Brown sparked violent demonstrations in the days after the shooting and again on Monday night, when it was announced that a Missouri grand jury would not charge Wilson. There were more protests Tuesday, in Ferguson and around the nation.
In the hourlong interview, Wilson said he could not have done anything differently.
Asked if the incident would have turned out differently if Michael Brown had been white, Wilson said no.
Wilson, 28, spent six years with the Ferguson police department before being placed on administrative leave following the shooting. Wilson worked for two years at another police department before that.
He remains on leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told reporters Tuesday.
\"No decision has been made,\" Knowles said. \"His current employment status has not changed.\"
Last week, people close to the talks told CNN that the officer was in the final stages of negotiations with city officials to resign from the police department.
Wilson has told associates he would resign as a way to help ease pressure and protect his fellow officers.
The United States Justice Department is also investigating whether Wilson violated Brown's civil rights.
In newly released transcripts of testimony that the grand jury heard while considering whether to bring charges in Brown's death, Wilson told the jurors that he had never fired his gun on duty before that day.
Wilson told the grand jury his original goal was to arrest Brown, after identifying him as a possible suspect in a shop theft.
Wilson fired 12 shots, according to the grand jury proceedings.
The officer told the St. Louis County grand jury that two shots were fired during a struggle at his police vehicle and that he then fired three bursts of gunfire as he chased and later backed away from Brown. He testified that his Sig Sauer .40-caliber gun held a maximum of 13 bullets.