The Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot and killed unarmed teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9 claims that Brown assaulted him while Wilson was inside his police cruiser.
The New York Times reported that Wilson told authorities investigating the killing that he was pinned in his vehicle and in fear for his life when he drew his service pistol and fired.
Wilson told investigators that Brown assaulted him after Wilson stopped him and another youth and told them to move from the street to the sidewalk. Wilson claims that when he attempted to exit his vehicle, Brown shoved him back into the door and began to punch and scratch him repeatedly while reaching for his gun.
Wilson fired the gun twice inside the vehicle, striking Brown once in the arm. CNN reported Saturday that Brown’s blood was found on Wilson’s uniform, on his gun and inside the vehicle.
Wilson did not explain, however, why he shot the youth five more times when — as witnesses have said — Brown was surrendering with his hands up when Wilson exited the vehicle.
The officer gave testimony as part of a grand jury investigation into the killing. The sources who spoke to the Times said that so far, the available evidence does not appear to support a civil rights suit against Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department.
In order to file a civil suit, the Justice Department would have to demonstrate that Wilson willfully denied Brown’s civil rights in the incident, and police are give a great deal of legal leeway in situations where they reasonably believe their lives may be in danger.
Witness testimonies differ from Wilson’s version of events. One witness in particular, Dorian Johnson, the youth who was walking with Brown, said that Wilson was the aggressor.
The officer, said Johnson, backed up his vehicle and angrily opened the door, which slammed into Brown and bounced back.
“He just reached his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around his neck, and he was trying to choke my friend,” Johnson said after the incident. “He was trying to get away, and the officer then reached out and grabbed his arm to pull him inside the car.”
Johnson said that Wilson then drew his gun and threatened to shoot.
“In the same moment, the first shot went off,” the youth said. “We looked at him. He was shot. There was blood coming from him. And we took off running.”
Brown family lawyer Benjamin L. Crump scoffed at Wilson’s version of events, saying, “What the police say is not to be taken as gospel.”
“The officer’s going to say whatever he’s going to say to justify killing an unarmed kid,” said Crump. “Right now, they have this secret proceeding where nobody knows what’s happening and nobody knows what’s going on. No matter what happened in the car, Michael Brown ran away from him.”