Officer Darren Wilson: 'I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan'

by Will Hall |

Brown family attorney Daryl Parks points on an autopsy diagram to the head wound that was likely fatal to Michael Brown during a news conference in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. The family of Michael Brown, a teenager shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, paid for an independent autopsy which was carried out by Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner for the City of New York. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

FERGUSON, Mo. (Christian Examiner) – Describing the escalation of his encounter with Michael Brown which started with a request to get out of the way of traffic and onto the sidewalk, Officer Darren Wilson gave details of the growing fears he felt as Brown came towering through the window of the Chevy Tahoe police vehicle and assaulted him.

"I tried to hold his right arm and use my left hand to get out, to have some type of control and not be trapped in my car anymore," Wilson testified in front of the St. Louis County grand jury. "And when I grabbed him, the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.

"Hulk Hogan, that's just how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm," he repeated.

These details are part of a 286-page transcript found in just one of the 24 volumes of testimonies released by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch after he announced the grand jury's conclusion there was no probable cause to indict Wilson, a white police officer, for the fatal shooting of Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old man.

McCulloch gave a lengthy description of the testimony, especially the physical evidence and the autopsies by three forensic pathologists, including one hired by Brown's family. Saying there was little disagreement among the three reports, he contrasted that with conflicts among eyewitness accounts -- noting some witnesses changed details between retellings, later confessing they were repeating rumors. Others said things that did not square with the physical evidence, he said.

He also made it a point to share that several black witnesses gave testimony in the privacy of the grand jury chamber, offering accounts that aligned with the physical evidence, which included an audio of the gunshots.

The physical evidence, he said, was most compelling, and so was the testimony that was consistent with it.

UNNECESSARY ESCALATION

Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson were walking down the middle of the street following the center lines when Wilson was returning from a sick baby call, according to his testimony.

"I had already seen a couple cars trying to pass, but they couldn't ... so one had to stop to let the car go around and then another car would come," Wilson said. "The next thing I noticed was the size of the individuals because either the first one was really small or the second one was really big."

That's when Wilson asked the two men to move to the sidewalk, only for his order to be dismissed, he said.

VULGAR DEFIANCE

"As Johnson came around my driver's side mirror I said, 'why don't you guys walk on the sidewalk.' He kept walking, as he is walking he said, 'we are almost to our destination.'"

Johnson kept walking past Wilson's open window in the opposite direction as Brown approached the vehicle. As Brown came around the mirror Wilson said, "Well, what's wrong with the sidewalk" and Brown responded with a vulgarity.

That's when Wilson said he noticed Brown had cigarillos in his right hand, an item reported as stolen from a nearby store during an earlier police dispatch call. Wilson called for an additional unit, drove his car in reverse and backed up to catch up with the duo, stopping the police car at an angle to cut off Brown and Johnson.

FROM STANDOFF TO ATTACK

Brown slammed Wilson's door shut when the officer tried to get out of the Tahoe, and challenged him with "What the f*** are you going to do about it?" Wilson demanded Brown "get the f*** back." Brown shut the door again and that is when he pushed his way into the window and attacked Wilson, according to the officer's testimony.

After the initial surge, Wilson describes a bizarre pause in the altercation, a time when Brown turns to Johnson and tells him to "hold these" -- meaning the cigarillos -- and that's when Wilson grabbed Brown's arm.

"As I was trying to pull the handle, I see his hand coming back around like this and he hit me ... a full swing all the way back around and hit me right here," Wilson recounted. "After he did that, next thing I remember is [thinking] 'How do I get this guy away from me?' What do I do not to get beaten inside my car ... what do I do."

Wilson grabbed his gun and warned Brown he would shoot him, but Brown grasped the weapon and told the officer "you are too much of a p**** to shoot me," trying to twist the gun away from Wilson.

SHOTS & MISFIRES

There were misfires, but one shot was fired and went through the door panel and the rolled down window. Brown stepped back from the car and Wilson noticed blood. But Brown's face turned menacing, Wilson said, "like a demon, that's how angry he looked," and Brown began attacking him again. Two clicks were the only sound Wilson said he heard when he pulled the trigger twice, before racking the slide and pulling the trigger again.

The third time the gun fired and "I see him start to run and I see a cloud of dust behind him," Wilson described. "As I'm getting out of the car I tell dispatch, 'shots fired, send me more cars.'"

Wilson said he ran after Brown, both going behind the police car toward where Johnson said they originally were headed.

But Brown stopped and so did Wilson, telling the man to drop to the ground when he turned.

"When he looked at me, he made like a grunting, like aggravated sound and he starts, he turns and he's coming back towards me, he kind of does like a stutter step to start running," the transcript reads. "When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me."

TRAGIC END

"I shot a series of shots. I don't know how many I shot, I just know I shot it," he continued. "I know I missed a couple ... but I know I hit him at least once because I saw his body kind of jerk or flinched."

Wilson said he remembered seeing the smoke from the gun and "kind of looked at him and he's still coming at me, he hadn't slowed down." Wilson, backpedaling, yelled at Brown to get on the ground and fired another round of shots, but Brown appeared like he was going to run through the fire of bullets to get to Wilson, until Brown got about eight to 10 feet away.

"He had started to lean forward as he got close .... I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that's what I shot," he said. "[T]he demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, I mean, I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped."

AFTERMATH

McCulloch pleaded for peaceful protests, urging the public to understand the grand jury's deliberate process over three months to consider all the known evidence.

"They are the only people that have heard and examined every witness and every piece of evidence," he said, adding that the jurors "poured their hearts and soul into the process."

Many of those who took to the streets did so peacefully.

But enraged mobs threw rocks and debris at police, groups overturned and burned patrol cars, and crowds torched businesses along West Florissant Avenue -- leaving more wounds in an already injured Ferguson.  

Next: Dorian Johnson