Jack's Ruminations

Sympathies for Officer Wilson

Posted on: August 21, 2014

Two posts ago I concluded that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was guilty of second degree murder of unarmed Michael Brown. Last post is about the people  who believe Wilson was justified in murdering Brown. Those people are a large reason behind this earlier post of mine.

But in this current post, I will explain why I have sympathy for Officer Wilson. My reasoning is quite simple. It concerns what I believe Wilson thought he saw when Brown stopped running away, and turned around to face him.

Eyewitnesses Dorian Johnson and Piaget Crenshaw also saw Brown turn around. The Brown they knew — a good student and earnest guy with a promising future — is pictured to the right.

When he turned around with his hands up, the image to the left is what I believe these two saw — namely, a sweet, harmless guy giving up on fighting or running.

But I believe Officer Wilson saw something completely different. The Michael Brown he knew for all of 30 seconds was this guy:

And when Brown turned around with his hands up, this is what I believe Officer Wilson saw:

[below the fold]

Seeing that, Wilson did what he was trained to do: fire bullets straight into Brown’s chest to stop this charging animal.

Being a bad shot, Wilson missed Brown’s chest, and hit the boy three times in his upraised right arm.

As Brown started falling to the ground — most likely to avoid more bullets — Wilson mistook that for a charge.

So he followed his training and now aimed for a head shot. This time his aim was better and he plunked Brown twice from the top of the head, as Brown fell to the ground.

With Brown lying dead in the street in an expanding pool of blood, Wilson had the chance to take a good look.

And what he saw was an unarmed boy of 18. Not a grizzly bear.

This is why, I believe, Wilson looks confused and a bit distraught in the video Crenshaw took immediately after the shooting.

So Wilson made a mistake. It was a tragic mistake. Both for Brown and for himself.

But mistake is no excuse when you kill someone. Sure, it can reduce the degree of the crime. But it’s no complete defense.

This is why Wilson is guilty of at least manslaughter, and probably second degree murder.

One of the great tragedies of August 9 is that Wilson is probably among the 5 nicest guys in the 53-man Ferguson police force. I mean, the stories coming out about these guys (“I’ll blow your head off!!”, “Hey, you innocent man that I just bludgeoned, you bled on my uniform; pay up”, etc.) paint them as social misanthropes.

But Wilson doesn’t seem to be like that.

Indeed, had one of these anti-social bastard cops bumped into Brown on August 9, I bet Brown would have survived the day. The asshole cop wouldn’t have been afraid of Brown. Sure, he would have abused Brown. Maybe even tortured Brown back at the station. But he wouldn’t have made the mistake of killing an unarmed boy.

So that, to me, is the great tragedy of August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. A gentle black boy, seemingly looking for a way out of going to college, tries on a “thug” mask for the day. It was like Halloween for him.

At the same time, one of the small minority of kind and gentle officers in the Ferguson police force needs to put on his scary “New Jim Crow cop” mask as he drives through the poor section of town, and confronts the two black kids in the middle of the street.

Michael Brown was no thug. He didn’t nearly deserve what he got on that day.

Darren Wilson was no archetype for the New Jim Crow fascist cop. I don’t think he deserves to stand in for that archetype in the rising tide that seeks to overthrow the New Jim Crow.

But he does need to go to jail.

2 Responses to "Sympathies for Officer Wilson"

I see you’ve been really captivated by this story as you have written many blogs regarding this topic.

Very, very sad all the way around. Your blog is quite balanced however.

We live in a very suspicious world because of all of the shit that goes on it, and we live in a very restrictive world because of all of the shit that goes on it.

Naive immaturity met suspicious fearfulness that day. Very, very sad.

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