A New Yorker profile of the police officer who shot unarmed teen Michael Brown to death in Ferguson, Missouri revealed that he is living in virtual anonymity and is deeply incurious about the larger events around the killing and the unrest that it spawned.
Former officer Darren Wilson now lives in a quiet neighborhood filled with houses “clad in vinyl siding.” He has a baby daughter who was born in March, a little sister to his two stepsons with wife Barb, another ex-cop.
The New Yorker‘s Jake Halpern said that Wilson has been unable to find police work, that departments consider him too much of a potential liability. So, he is living on donated money, screening visitors with a series of cameras connected to his cell phone and answering the door in a hat and sunglasses.
When asked if he has read up on the systemic injustices and entrenched departmental racism highlighted in the Justice Department’s report on the Ferguson Police Department, Wilson shrugged it off.
“I don’t have any desire,” he told Halpern. “I’m not going to keep living in the past about what Ferguson did. It’s out of my control.”
A grand jury cleared Wilson of wrongdoing in Brown’s killing and a Justice Department report on the killing said that Wilson had fired on the youth in self defense. While the agency found that the Ferguson police were carrying out racist policies and preying on the city’s black population, Wilson himself was twice found to have acted within official protocol.
Later in the profile, Wilson said he believes that blacks on his beat are using the racism of the past as an excuse not to do better in the present.
“I am really simple in the way that I look at life,” Wilson told Halpern. “What happened to my great-grandfather is not happening to me. I can’t base my actions off what happened to him.”
Police officers, Wilson said, “can’t fix in thirty minutes what happened thirty years ago. We have to fix what’s happening now. That’s my job as a police officer. I’m not going to delve into people’s life-long history and figure out why they’re feeling a certain way, in a certain moment…I’m not a psychologist.”
Now, Wilson and his family continue to keep a low profile, rarely venturing outside and choosing locations for outings carefully, like restaurants.
“We try to go somewhere — how do I say this correctly? — with like-minded individuals,” Wilson said. “You know. Where it’s not a mixing pot.”