Black Lives Matter: Where is Darren Wilson now? Cop who killed unarmed Black teen got $400,000 in donations
Wilson quit his job, despite not being indicted by a grand jury. What happened to him after? We try to find out.
"Hand's up, don't shoot" protestors chanted in Ferguson, Missouri. They were echoing the last actions of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old who was shot six times by officer Darren Wilson. The shooting sparked some of the worst riots seen in St. Louis, after Brown was killed in 2014. Accounts of the day vary wildly and remain chaotic to this day.
The fact is Brown was unarmed and attempting to flee after stealing cigars from a local store. He was then shot and killed by Wilson. Wilson was not charged, neither was he indicted by a grand jury. The confusing accounts of the day do not clear him, but neither was he guilty. Nonetheless, Wilson decided to quit his job later that year. He believed he was putting his fellow officers at risk, which was substantiated after two New York City cops were shot in apparent retaliation. What happened to Wilson after the incident? Here's what we know.
Brown's shooting and subsequent riots
On August 9, 2014, Brown was caught on camera stealing a box of Swisher Sweets Cigars and running from a local store. Wilson encountered Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson minutes later on Canfield Drive. There's no clear indication of what happened next, but Brown reportedly reached inside Wilson's vehicle and attempted to take his service weapon. The gun fired once, hitting Brown who then fled. Wilson gave him a chase and shot Brown six times. Some say Wilson shot Brown in cold blood, others contend that Brown was advancing on Wilson, prompting him to fire.
What followed after is nothing short of a made-for-TV drama. Protestors took to the streets, peaceful initially. However, things soon turned violent with rioting and looting. Within days, the city turned into a war-like zone with police in riot gear using smoke bombs, flash grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas to clear rioters. They reacted with Molotov cocktails and other projectiles. On August 16, Governor Jay Nixon declared a curfew.
Protests were reignited following Wilson's grand jury hearing in November, leading to more violence. There was also rioting in August 2015, as the city marked a year since Brown's death. Following the shooting, the police and Department of Justice (DoJ) both held investigations and cleared Wilson. The DoJ and the state both said that they did not have enough evidence to show Wilson committed manslaughter or murder.
Grand jury hearing and Wilson's fate
On August 20, 2014, a grand jury began to hear evidence in the case State of Missouri versus Darren Wilson. The jury heard evidence for 25 days, which included 5,000 pages of testimony and 60 witnesses. On November 24, it was announced that the jury would not indict Wilson. Nonetheless, on November 29, Wilson announced his resignation from the police department. "I'm resigning of my own free will," he said to the St. Louis Dispatch. "I'm not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me."
"Darren will never be a police officer again, and he understands that," his attorney told NBC. So what happened to him after? A New Yorker profile provides some insight. Wilson reportedly attempted to gain employment as a police officer elsewhere but was told he would be a liability. He then found a job at Chuck's Boots, a warehouse in Fenton, stocking inventory. However, he was forced to quit after just two weeks after reporters kept showing up at the store.
As of 2015, Wilson still lived in St. Louis, in a house he bought with the help of donations. To avoid harassment, the house is not listed in his name. He keeps a very low-profile, occasionally venturing out to places "with like-minded individuals". That low-profile seems to include a social media blackout. There is a Facebook account for Darren Wilson, but we are unable to verify if it actually belongs to him.
According to the page, Wilson is now a specialist for Conflict Sensitivity and Peacebuilding at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Baltimore, Maryland. It also lists his current town as Washington DC. The last post made to the account was in February 2015. Another account that uses his name and details, lists his present town as Chicago and does not give a present job.
In 2015, The Daily Mail reported that Wilson was studying criminal justice at a local college. According to the Mail, Wilson was working on a memoir, but no such book was ever published. They also reported he was planning to become a public speaker, but we haven't been able to find any appearances by Wilson since the shooting. He was reportedly given donations by wellwishers, of up to $400,000, but has had to work several low-paying jobs since he can't access the money. We haven't been able to verify this information.
That was the last time any news of Wilson made its way to the public. For the last five years, there has been no information about Wilson or his fate. Like many other police officers who were involved in fatal shootings, Wilson has since disappeared from the public eye. The Brown family is still fighting for justice but it seems like it may never come. In July 2020, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said that no charges would be filed against Wilson. The family reached a settlement with the city in 2017, and Wilson still lives.