Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson opened up for the first time in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, part of which aired Tuesday evening, less than 24 hours after it was announced a grand jury would not indict him for the death of Michael Brown.
Wilson said there was “no way” Brown put his hands up before Wilson fired his weapon, as some witnesses have described. Wilson said he thought, “he will kill me if he gets to me” when he saw Brown come toward him.
Wilson: “When he stopped, he turned and faced me, and as he does that his right hand immediately goes into his waistband, and his left hand is a fist at his side, and he starts charging me.”
Stephanopoulos: “What did you think when you saw that?”
Wilson: “I didn’t know, I mean, my initial thought was, is there a weapon in there?”
Stephanopoulos: “Even though he hadn’t pulled something out earlier when he was confronting you.”
Wilson: “Yeah, it was still just the unknown. And again, we’re taught to, let me see your hands.”
Stephanopoulos: “As you know, some of the eyewitnesses have said, when at that moment he turned around, he turned around and put his hands up.”
Wilson: “That would be incorrect. Incorrect.”
Stephanopoulos: “No way?”
Wilson: “No way.”
Stephanopoulos: “So, you say he starts to run, does a [unintelligible], starts to come toward you.”
Wilson: “Mmm hmm.”
Wilson: “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.”
George: “Even though he’s what, 35-40 feet away?”
Wilson: “Once he’s coming that direction, why, if he hasn’t stopped yet, when’s he gonna stop?”
Wilson said the incident with Brown was the first time he’d ever used his gun. When Stephanopoulos asked if there was any way the incident could’ve been handled differently, Wilson replied, “no.”
Wilson said he has a “clean conscience” about the way he handled the incident with Brown.
“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,” Wilson added.
In an excerpt of the interview aired on “Nightline” early Wednesday morning, Wilson also responded to a statement released by Brown’s family after the grand jury decision was announced that said they were “profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions.”
“I think those are grieving parents who are mourning the loss of their son. I don’t think there’s anything I could say, but again I’m sorry that their son lost their life,” Wilson said when Stephanopoulos asked him about the statement. “It wasn’t the intention of that day. It’s what occurred that day. And there’s nothing you could say that could make a parent feel better.”
Asked whether he felt remorse for killing Brown, Wilson said that “everyone feels remorse when life’s lost.”
“I never wanted to take anybody’s life. That’s not the good part of the job, that’s the bad part of the job,” Wilson said. He added that if Brown would have moved out of the street and onto the sidewalk, the incident never would have happened.
Wilson said that the most important thing people should know about him is that he was acting professionally during the interaction with Brown.
“I just did my job,” he said. “I did what I was paid to do and that was my job. I followed my training, the training took over, the training led me to what happened. I maintained the integrity of this investigation, and that’s it.”
Wilson has been keeping a low profile since he shot and killed Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black teenager, in Missouri on Aug. 9. Wilson’s lawyers released a statement Monday night in reaction to the grand jury’s decision, thanking the officer’s supporters and saying any further “commentary on this matter will be done in the appropriate venue and not through the media.”
Stephanopoulos teased the interview earlier Tuesday, saying there was “no question off limits.”
A few days before, it was reported that Wilson had been meeting with network anchors in anticipation of giving an interview after the announcement of the grand jury’s decision. CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that Wilson met with Stephanopoulos, NBC News’ Matt Lauer, CBS News’ Scott Pelley, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.
Below, a timeline of what happened after Brown was shot:
This story has been updated to include comments from Wilson that aired Wednesday morning.
See more updates from Ferguson below:
I am sneezing in between paragraphs, coughing at the completion of each sentence and wiping my bloodshot eyes as I proofread this column. I see no need to visit the doctor, for I know this horrible cold will pass.
This is a sad day.
The grand jury’s decision is yet another sign that all of America’s sons’ lives are not yet valued equally in the eyes of our courts. All of America’s fathers, mothers and children should stay outraged and in motion for progress until we are finally what we say we are: One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.
We must finally ensure police can be held accountable for killing unarmed civilians. We must win national standards for both the use of force and use of force training. We must require the use of body cameras on police officers. We must force the removal of any mayor or police chief who cannot ensure the minimum requirement of any public safety agenda: that the police uphold their oath and protect and respect the lives of all civilians. The time has long since come for the behavior of America’s police to reflect her people’s values by respecting the sanctity of each of our lives no matter our race, gender, or class.
The path to these goals is focused advocacy and, where necessary, non-violent direct action. Those are the strategies that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Acts 50 years ago and the outlawing of racial profiling in New York City just two years ago.
Today we are all Michael Brown. Tomorrow we must ensure each of our lives is valued equally in the eyes of our nation’s laws, law enforcement officers, and courts.
Ben Jealous, Partner at Kapor Capital, immediate past President and CEO of the NAACP, and Chairman of the Southern Elections Fund, released this statement following the announcement that a grand jury had chosen not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown:
Use this guide to handle these characters without resorting to cryptic Facebook posts that leave innocent relatives wondering if you were talking about them.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) expressed disappointment with his GOP colleagues in the House of Representatives for failing to pass legislation on immigration.
“Shame on us as Republicans,” he said. “Shame on us as Republicans for having a body that cannot generate a solution to an issue that is national security, it’s cultural and it’s economic.”
“I’m close to the people in the House, but I’m disappointed in my party,” Graham continued. “Are we still the party of self-deportation? Is it the position of the Republican Party that the 11 million must be driven out?”
Graham also criticized President Barack Obama’s “political decision” to take executive action on immigration and “divide the Republican Party.” Obama announced his plans for immigration in a primetime address to the nation on Thursday.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also took to the Sunday news shows to criticize Obama’s immigration plan, arguing Senate Republicans should refuse to confirm any executive or judicial Obama nominee until he reverses his decision.
Watch a video of Graham above.
I’m sorry, Jon Stewart. I’m really sorry because I love your Daily Show. I love that your satire holds the feet of politicians to the fire. But your film… well, someone needs to say this: it’s not what it’s cracked up to be.
The agonizing book chapter title “Stealing Children’s Innocence in Egypt: Media Literacy, Human Rights and Roads of Violence” hit the nail on the head.
It rang a familiar bell and could well apply to many developing countries going through uncertain transitions.
According to author Ibrahim Saleh, an Egyptian professor of political communication at South Africa’s University of Cape Town:
On a daily basis, Egyptian children endure all sorts of violence in the media and in other respects inside and outside their homes, especially within the current fluid political situation in Egypt. Children are witnessing the trauma of such clashes, especially that many young children have been seen at demonstrations and there have been disturbing reports of some groups deliberately bringing in vulnerable children. Some reports suggest that certain political organizations are offered money in exchange for sending street children into a demonstration area.
He said violence against children was tied to poverty, unemployment, drugs, inadequate or abusive parenting practices and real-life adult models of violent problem-solving behavior.
Saleh’s views in “Young People, Media and Health: Risks and Rights,” are unnerving.
His observations dovetail with a video clip seemingly shot with a mobile phone of a private tutor in English slapping a boy around for not getting his lesson right.
The teacher called the boy “hiyawan” (Arabic for animal), in this context a moron, while another boy in the room looked on and laughed.
The recipient of the blows also laughed at first before telling his instructor he’d had enough and asking him to stop.
The comments by Egyptian viewers on the video clip’s YouTube page were rather telling.
Most found the boy’s attitude “asal” (meaning honey, or adorable) and the incident comical, albeit the boy “ghabi” (dumb) for not learning his lesson properly.
One viewer wrote: “Funny videos, I’m Egyptian and I’m proud to be Egyptian.”
Saleh saw links between different kinds of violence in society and the media. He shed light on whether (or not) children’s rights were protected in Egypt and the role media literacy could play in addressing this societal crisis.
The adverse effects of media reporting are still impeded by many social and cultural issues, are seldom recorded statistically, and, even if reported, are usually only recorded in terms of broader family incidences. Moreover, with the lack of more child rights protection, media texts and visuals will continue to recreate and disseminate violent themes and radicalism in a positively packaged culturally mediated context.
He said Egypt was caught in a vicious cycle of violence against children where a paradox lies in the pseudo-culture that continues to brag about its religious and conservative structure, while keeping silent and even being disinterested in child maltreatment, peer victimization and children’s exposure to violence in the family, school, community and media.
Book co-editor Cecilia von Feilitzen’s chapter “Mediated Violence and Related Risk Factors” focused on research, film and television, children’s personalities and relationships, video and computer games, and violence on the Internet.
“The ‘UN Convention on the Rights of the Child‘ stresses the important function performed by the media, that the child shall have access to information and material aimed at the promotion of his or her well-being and health and that s/he shall be protected from information and material injurious to his or her well being (from Article 17),” she wrote.
The International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media published the 202-page book. The clearinghouse falls under the umbrella of Nordicom, Gothenburg University’s Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research in Sweden
Another chapter is a policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media that zeroed in on children, adolescents, obesity and the media.
“It is increasingly clear that the media, particularly TV, play an important role in the etiology of obesity,” it said, adding that there were no data relating other media to obesity.
The statement said children and teenagers who watch more TV tend to consume more calories or eat higher-fat diets.
Young people are enticed by advertising, marketing and commercialization of just about everything, explained Susan Linn in her chapter “Too Many Screens, Too Much Stuff.”
“While billions are spent around the globe to eradicate and treat pediatric diseases, as much money or more is also spent inculcating and/or exacerbating health problems for children,” she said.
The book includes valuable insights into sexualization and children’s relationship with the media, and the impact of excessive media exposure on sleep and memory.
A major section is dedicated to the right to participation, with Rafael Obregon and Angela Rojas Martinez providing a view on a child- and adolescent-centered approach in Latin America.
Arvind Singhal examined a radio show in Nepal called “Chatting With My Best Friend” during which young listeners can engage “in open, honest and authentic conversations about their body, sexuality, health and interpersonal relationships.”
The book is thoughtful and well researched. Parents, educators, health experts and people in the media would do well to read it.
Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
© Native Sun News 2014
There is a poem in my book “Children Left Behind” called “Six days a week and twice on Sunday” that describes the lives of the Indian students at Holy Rosary Indian Mission boarding school in the 1940s. The school no longer boards students and it is now called Red Cloud Indian School.
The poem describes how we spent a lot of time in church. After church Monday through Saturday we reported to the school dining hall where we were almost always served yellow cornmeal mush. This breakfast meal gained so much notoriety that when we played basketball against our near rival, Oglala Community School (now Pine Ridge High School), they would put up banners that read, “Crush the mush.”
However on Sunday mornings at the boarding school everything changed and we were served bowls of cornflakes.
I wrote about this because the change from corn meal mush to cornflakes was dramatic. We all loved the cornflakes because it broke up our usual breakfast fare. And I never really gave much thought to that poem until last week when a young Lakota woman from Black Hills State University came to my office to interview me.
Her name is Savannah Greseth and she is the daughter of Diane Amiotte who works for the Inter Tribal Bison Council in Rapid City. Many years ago Diane was an advertising sales representative for my newspaper Indian Country Today. With bright young Lakota like Savannah on the horizon I no longer fear for the future of Native Americans.
Savannah read my book and recalled one part because it crossed a topic she was reading for a research paper. One paragraph in the poem went:
“At the end of the Mass
We’d troop to the dining room
For our Sunday morning treat. . .
Savannah asked if I knew the history of cornflakes and I had to admit I did not probably because I never had a reason to check it out.
She explained it to me.
It is written that the creator of cornflakes was a Michigan physician named John Harvey Kellog. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Western world worked itself up into a mass hissy fit over the idea of people touching themselves. One of the most ardent anti-masturbators was Mr. Kellog. According to an article on Google it was reported that he believed sex was detrimental to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It said that he personally abstained from it and never consummated his marriage. He said that sex with one’s wife was bad, but masturbation was even worse.
Kellog’s brother Will wanted to add sugar to the newly developed cornflakes, but John demurred so Will started the Kellog Company and did add sugar to many of the grain cereals he developed. “Masturbators who enjoy cornflakes can probably attest that the sugar was a good idea since Kellog’s cereal doesn’t really have its intended effect.”
After reading this I came to the conclusion that the Jesuit priests and Franciscan nuns who were the overseers at Holy Rosary Mission probably read Kellog’s book, “Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life,” and took it seriously. Why else would they favor us so grandly with cornflakes every Sunday morning? Would the corn in the corn meal mush be comparable to cornflakes?
Holy Rosary Mission housed boys and girls from kindergarten to grade 12. We were all young Lakota, raucous and full of energy so I presume the Jesuits thought cornflakes and corn meal mush would serve as a sexual depressant.
While discussing this with an ex-serviceman in my employ we both brought up the myth perpetrated on us while serving in the military. The ingredient that was supposed to have the same effect on us as cornflakes was called Saltpeter. Rumor had it that it was an ingredient added to food in prison and in military camps to curb sexual desires. Saltpeter is actually Potassium Nitrate and there has never been any proof that it affected the male libido.
I suppose that in the long run the Jesuit priests and nuns truly believed that cornflakes would quiet our sex drive and they eventually found out it did not. But I am sure they knew of the supposed impact of cornflakes and served it so us every Sunday for that purpose. Perhaps they should have been devouring it by the bowl full themselves and then perhaps there would not have been so much sexual abuse of the Indian children placed in their care.
Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. He is now the editor and publisher of the largest weekly newspaper in South Dakota, Native Sun News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Technology has created what relationship researcher Scott Stanley dubs the “soft breakup.” This is a breakup that is known to only one member of the two-person relationship. The other member is left in a quasi-state of communication, something like a flawed Skype connection, in which one party sees the other, who only sees a black box.
Sarah Koenig is too emotional. Sarah Koenig is in love with Adnan Syed. Sarah Koenig clearly can’t be taken seriously as a reporter.
The This American Life spinoff podcast Serial has gained a cult following. It’s hosted by producer Sarah Koenig and follows the 1999 Maryland murder of Hae Min Lee and the trial of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who is currently serving a life sentence for her murder. There was no physical evidence and much of the testimony used to convict him was questionable at best. The podcast has become a sensation, inspiring meta-podcasts and a legion of listeners who are attempting to discover the truth alongside Koenig.
I’m one of those obsessed Serial listeners. Consider this a formal apology to my professors–I spend 50 percent of class time surreptitiously reading the subreddit for the podcast. And as I read, one kind of comment started popping up again and again: “can we trust SK?” “Is SK in love with Adnan?” “Did you hear how she giggled?”
It wasn’t until I started listening to Serial that I realized how few popular podcasts are hosted by women. Listen, I love RadioLab, This American Life and HowStuffWorks as much as the next student, but hearing a woman’s voice on a podcast is so rare, and it’s no wonder when you consider that we live in a world where feminine-sounding voices are devalued.
NPR did a story on this issue recently. They point out that women with higher voices are perceived as incompetent and unreliable. So it’s not just Koenig — all women are judged based on their vocal intonation. When listeners criticize the way Koenig laughs or her tone when she asks questions, they’re not just criticizing her voice, they’re attacking her credibility. And when the medium in question is aural, a podcast, perceptions of voice really matter. Which is why it’s so frustrating to see listeners project these ideas onto Koenig’s incredible reporting.
The criticism that bothers me the most, though, is the implication that Koenig is in love with Adnan Syed. Listeners point to a moment early in the show when Koenig says that he doesn’t look like a murderer. But what many don’t note is that she immediately calls herself out, acknowledging that a murderer could easily have warm brown eyes. She’s not falling in love, she’s helping the listener create a mental image of the show’s main subject. They point out that she’s friendly with Adnan, sometimes laughing at his jokes. She has over 30 hours worth of interviews with him — of course they’re friendly. It’s also her prerogative to be amiable with her main subject. If their relationship becomes cold or accusatory then she loses her main source. The assertion that she is in love with Adnan is insulting and clearly sexist. When was the last time someone accused Ira Glass of being in love with one of his subjects?
When listeners accuse Koenig of being “too emotional,” they’re continuing the tradition of devaluing emotion. Emotional reactions are just as valid as intellectual ones. And most of Koenig’s reactions are intellectual. But it’s a mistake to argue that she’s not a credible journalist because she does occasionally express emotion. It’s an emotional case which involves real people. As I write, Adnan Syed is in prison in Maryland. Many people are working to free him. Lee’s friends and family are still mourning her. So I don’t want to listen to a “Serial” that is bereft of emotion because that would mean detaching from the real trauma that impacted so many in Baltimore and beyond.
What’s so wrong with being emotional anyway? Critics of Koenig’s reporting should remember that emotion and reason are not mutually exclusive. Sarah Koenig does occasionally laugh or sigh with frustration. And these human moments make Serial great.