In his first interview since shooting Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson has defended his behavior, saying he has a “clean conscience” regarding his actions and that he would do the same thing again if he had to.
Wilson also said that, contrary to some witness accounts, there was “no way” Michael Brown had his hands up before he was shot.
During an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulous, Wilson said he saw Brown walking down the middle of the street, along the yellow line, when he asked him to move over. When he didn’t, the officer said he pulled his car beside him. Describing an altercation that lasted 45 seconds, Wilson explained that he shot Brown six times.
There is a still a federal investigation underway into whether Wilson violated the teen’s civil rights, but that hasn’t stopped the officer from agreeing to break his silence, and give a national broadcast about his version of what happened that day.
The interview was an hour and half long and will air in parts. Excerpts show Wilson telling Stephanopoulous of how he went to open his car door and said to Brown, “Hey, come here for a minute.”
According to Wilson, Brown said: “Hey, f**k you, and what you going to do about it,” before slamming the door shut. Wilson claims he then used the door to push back at Brown, who also pushed back, and the altercation started.
Wilson described how Brown hit him in the face, stating that punches then began to fly.
“He threw the first punch. It hit me on the left side of my face...I don’t know what, how many hit me after that, I just know there was a barrage of swinging and grabbing and pulling for about ten seconds,” said Wilson.
Wilson said he tried to grab Brown’s forearm so he could get out of the car, and realized the immense power the teenager had. “The way I’ve described it is like a five-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan. That’s how big he was...a very powerful man,” said Wilson.
Wilson said Brown delivered another punch with his left fist to the officer’s right cheek, and that at this point he thought, “How will I survive?” Stephanopoulous asked for more explanation of what he meant by “survive,” and Wilson clarified that he meant survive another hit to the face.
“His response immediately was that he grabbed the top of my gun,” Wilson said. “And when he grabbed the top of my gun, he said, ‘You’re too much of a p***** to shoot me.’ And while he’s doing that I can feel his hand trying come over my hand and get inside the trigger guard and try and shoot me with my own gun, that’s when I pulled the trigger for the first time.”
The trigger was pulled, but the gun didn’t fire because Brown’s hand was on top of the gun, Wilson explained, although it's not clear how this would prevent the weapon from discharging. He attempted to fire again with the same result, but after the third time, Wilson said, it went off.
“At that time, I gave myself another mental check: 'Can I shoot this guy?' You know? 'Legally, can I?' And the question that I answered myself was, 'I have to. If I don’t, he will kill me if he gets to me.'”
Later in the interview, Stephanopoulous asked if there was anything Wilson could have done differently to prevent the killing from happen. Wilson answered, “No.”
Stephanopoulous asked if it will be something that haunts him going forward.
“I don’t think it’s haunting. It’s always going to be something that happened," Wilson said. "The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right.”