I watched part of the interview of Officer Wilson with George Stephanopoulous, and two things stood out. First was watching Wilson have to duck to get his enormous 6’4″ frame under the lighting while taking his seat, and all I could think about was the bullshit about how he felt like a five year old being attacked by Hulk Hogan when confronting the 6’4″ Brown. The second was this:
“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.”
That’s the mark of a sociopath. If I was in his position, even if I were completely in the right, the shooting would haunt me and be with me forever, and I definitely would not have a clean conscience- I’ve killed a man. Someone is missing their son, someone is missing their best friend, someone’s life was ended too quickly by my hand. Nothing will ever change that, and considering the nightmares about little things I regularly have, I’m sure my dreams would be haunted forever. It would always be with me and I could never continue in law enforcement. Hell, I’m wracked with guilt when I accidentally run over an animal (and I do break for animals, so if you tailgate me, sorry about that, asshole).
When I am working, I like to watch Netflix documentaries to listen to instead of the cable news or music. Recently, I’ve been going through the epic World War II documentary by Ken Burns called The War (which I really recommend). During one segment, they are interview a fighter pilot, and he is talking about how he did his job and always went out and performed to his best, taking it to the enemy, and talked about some bloodbaths where he caught troops in the open during ground support operations and just mowed them down during strafing runs. He did it, he said, and broke no rules of warfare, but afterwards, after the battle was over and he was on the landing strip, safe and secure, he would become extremely emotional about the lives he had taken.
And these were men who were dead set on killing him. Not an unarmed teenager who was just walking down the street.
Indeed. Obviously it is a failure of policing if an unarmed citizen ends up dead. If a police officer thinks that outcomes could ever represent doing his job correctly, he should never have a badge.
When are the news stations going to point out that Wilson is a large person?
There’s also the tacit admission that killing under those circumstances is the right thing to do in the policing job. Not one of a number of allowable possible options. The “Right” thing. That is an institutional problem on top of the strongly demonstrated personal issues. I know who comes off demonstrating more “demonic” actions rather that mere appearences in that collision of souls.
I wonder how much of the “I did my job” stuff is coaching form lawyers and/or PR at the PD or otherwise. I can imagine them saying “To look good, just answer any question with ‘I was just doing my job’, don’t look evasive, don’t show any doubt”.
I mean, it’s either that or (and?) he’s a complete monster..
JC makes an excellent point with a great example from Burns’ documentary. The conclusion is that Wilson is broken and probably can’t be fixed. He should be shunned and otherwise kept from society. Will we see even ONE talking head challenge him or his growing group of supporters?
And Cervantes makes a good point upon which I’ll expand: “Obviously it is a failure of policing if an unarmed citizen ends up dead.”
If federal, state, and local leaders think that such an outcome could ever represent doing their job correctly, they should be removed from elected office by recall or from their hired positions by firing immediately.
@JPL: My guess, never.
What Cervantes said. It reminds me about all the times my gears grind when I hear some numb nut public official say “the system worked” when some dude who spent 20 years on Death Row gets exonerated. No, you fool, the system didn’t work. It failed. It’s failure has only been mitigated by finally releasing the guy.
It’s the same with the Brown killing, the Crawford killing and similar incidents. They always end up saying “the police followed proper protocols.” Well, if that’s true and some unarmed civilian ends up dead, then there is something wrong with your damn protocols and they need to be changed.
Well, he might be large, but he’s certainly not an animal or a thug, wink wink.
And the atrocities continue.
It vaguely reminds me of Sarah Palin’s “no, of course I’ve got no second thoughts, you gotta jump on the opportunity when it comes!” quote in re whether she ever thought twice about the vice presidency.
Same mentality. Just, the topic here is orders of magnitude worse.
Thank you for this, John. Thank you.
When I read those words, I was surprised by how cold and remorseless they were. Combine that with the way he described Brown in testimony like a demon and an “it,” you see a man who doesn’t understand that he shot a person.
And who would be alive today if Wilson hadn’t decided to harass him for walking down the middle of a quiet street in broad daylight.
And this “I did my job and wouldn’t do anything different” is just chilling.
I hate to feel like a conspiracy theorist but man, the irresponsibility of having that interview and airing those statements right now, the evidence just keeps stacking up that the power complex WANTS violence in Ferguson. They WANT to insult its community and provoke them.
@Brian R.: Not quite up to that level, but …
No pictures to be found of the deputies or the “perp”.
In both this case and the Trayvon Martin one, I’ve seen a remarkable number of people on Facebook and elsewhere announcing with great confidence that if someone behaves aggressively toward you in any way (or, in one case, if you get in a fight and it seems like you’re losing), it makes perfect sense to take out a gun, shoot the other person, and keep shooting until the person stops moving.
I assume this is 99% bluster, since aggregate crime statistics don’t show the torrent of blood that would exist if these people all actually behaved this way in their daily lives. But it seems to be hauled out to justify a lot of incidents after the fact.
I saw that part of Wilson’s interview. He looked like he was trying to hunch down to hide how big he is. It also looked like he was trying to remember the story he and his lawyers worked on. I mean, even if you feel that you were in the right, you have to have some remorse for taking another person’s life.
I keep looking at this through the prism of my dad, who was a police officer for 40 years in some very bad parts of Chicago. He never shot anyone, and I sure there are times when he could have. Yet Wilson thought it was a good idea to shoot multiple times at an unarmed person. He didn’t even need to get out of the car. Once Brown started allegedly attacking, all Wilson had to do was push him away from the car and drive away from the scene and wait for backup.
The problem with the interview is that Wilson has had weeks with lawyers and PR flacks to rehearse answers to possible questions. If he had said that he has some remorse about killing Brown, it could come back to haunt him in a civil lawsuit by Brown’s parents. Bottom line: I take Wilson’s comments in any non-sworn testimony with a grain of salt, especially when the questioning is focused on Wilson’s (not Brown’s) side of things.
Gin & Tonic
@Matt McIrvin: I’m glad 8,000+ handgun deaths per year are not a “torrent of blood.”
…By the way, a word to the wise: if you’re arguing with one of these people, don’t say “why didn’t he just shoot him in the leg?” because that immediately marks you as a Person Who Does Not Know About Guns and therefore lacks a valid opinion on any crime- or policing-related subject. I’ve seen liberals make this mistake a million times.
@Gin & Tonic: If they were accurately describing their own behavior, it’d be a hundred times that at least.
A security guard where I work is an ex-cop. She was shot on two occasions. Once, she pulled a guy over and while she was walking to the car, the guy shot her in the side of her stomach. She was down on the ground, and the guy got out of the car and walked towards her. This woman had the presence of mind, from a prone position, to pull her gun and shoot him in the knee, bringing him down.
Where are these kind of cops?
Wilson does not believe that he killed a man – he called Mike Brown a “DEMON” in his testimony – and demons don’t have friends or family.
Well and movingly said, John. Presumably a good lawyer could have given Wilson the advice he needed to give the impression of being a human being without incriminating himself: ‘profoundly regret…tragic circumstances … left me no alternative..ending of a human life…in the line of duty… blah, blah, blah….’
Couldn’t be bothered.
It’s my faint hope that a large well-equipped news agency–do they exist any more–does some real journalism. Combs through the testimony, tracks down witnesses, makes some effort to distinguish between reliable and unreliable testimony and comes up with an informed hypothesis, maybe several, about what happened. Wilson’s story defies belief, and the criminal justice system has not only failed to see that justice is done, but to establish any except the most rudimentary facts, viz. that a policeman shot an unarmed young man at least six times.
I think they are talking about the police. At work yesterday people were saying you just never question the police. Ever. You always do what they say. WTF. The police are always right? Yeah, I’ll buy that. Bullshit. We had a house fire across the street a few months ago and the fire dept got here right away and put it out. All the neighbors were out watching and standing back when the police show up. 3 officers and there is one running around and telling everyone to back up. They already are, no one is in any way interfering with the fire dept, getting close to the engines, but this one guy is running around like his hair is on fire. The other 2 just tried to make sure that no one was getting in the way. He was an ass about it. And almost everyone pretty much ignored him, which of course he noticed and this made him more agitated. It was a minor thing of course but he acted like a bully, which of course he was. And it pissed off everyone. Was that the desired effect? Because his way was sure wasn’t doing what he said he wanted. So is shooting people what the police want? It sure seems to be that way for some not so insignificant percentage of not only police but citizens as well.
I understand that Darren Wilson’s victim Michael Brown has had a growth spurt post-mortem and his height, originally six foot four, is now being reported at some news outlets as six foot five.
@Jim: See my note above: it wouldn’t have to be remorse or anything implying guilt that he expressed. Wilson is guilty as charged by John Cole, i.e., of sociopathy.
Culture of Truth
I take Wilson’s sworn statements with a huge grain of salt, also.
Wilson seemed to believe if Brown had gotten anywhere near him, Brown would have easily overpowered him and killed him. Although at that time, Brown had already been shot, at least once, although probably twice, and Wilson was 6 4″, and armed with a flashlight, mace, a club, and a gun.
I find it interesting he seems to believe this and that Brown’s steps toward him required killing him.
And Rudy 911 Guiluani doubles down: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rudy-giuliani-ferguson-witnesses-perjury
He’s so offended that some witnesses may have lied about what they saw that he’d prosecute them. Hell, why not dig up Michael Brown and charge him with assault.
@Culture of Truth: Exactly. Are we to believe that cops should now shoot any perp who makes the mistake of taking a step towards them? Or just the brown, hulking demonic ones?
Twenty years ago, I came very close to hitting and running over a motorcycle cop. He had to lay his bike down, as he told me with much anger in his voice. Just the thought that I could have hit him still haunts me whenever I remember it.
I saw Rudy interviewed on CNN last night. His mouth was downturned and his lower lip was quivering, he was that angry — almost what my grandmother would have called spitting mad.
Give Wilson a break, he thinks that he is only five years old.
Wilson’s story defies belief
For many of us here, yes.
For many, many out in the world, no it doesn’t. The people I work with are not horrible people but they believe it. They don’t have any reason not to, they don’t have personally any bad experiences with cops, nor do they know people that do. They certainly don’t get that from the news media, or this interview, or their daily lives. In their minds police do a hard job filled with people who are willing to try to stuff their bodies through a car window to reach across a cop to try to take his gun out of his holster, and the only reason anyone would do that is to kill the cop.
They have bought the story, completely. And that won’t change anytime soon.
Thank you, John. This is exactly what I was thinking when I heard Wilson utter those words. Reminds me of George Zimmerman.
Millions of people will buy Wilson’s story, because if he’s lying, then racism still exists in a Post-Racial America.
We can’t have that. Chief Justice Roberts said racism is over.
@Culture of Truth:
I don’t doubt that Wilson sincerely believed that he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. I don’t think that belief was objectively reasonable. But my vote doesn’t count.
Just once, I’d like to see some talking head ask Giuliani why the officers of the 70th Precinct felt comfortable shouting “It’s Giuliani time!” at Abner Louima, when they were sodomizing him with a broom handle.
No doubt the right wing crazies will explain that Wilson’s bizarre lack of any sort of regret for killing another human being is the sure sign of an innocent, virtuous, all-American family man. Mind you, they also continue to think Cheney was competent and that there were WMD in Iraq. Such are Christian family values in the small towns of America.
One real flaw in Wilson’s testimony, is that he admits, in his own words, to getting out of his car and chasing Brown. This does not sound like either someone who is afraid of Brown nor a cop who is following protocol and waiting for backup.
Shorter Darren Wilson: “When you kill a sub-human, there is no need for regret”.
IANAL, so I have two questions:
1. This was a Grand Jury, not a trial. Is there a chance that a new Grand Jury can indict him? AFAIK, this does not meet the “double jeopardy” standard, because it wasn’t a trial. Is that right?
2. Assuming the answer to no. 1 is yes, was releasing all of the testimony and documents an effort by the prosecutor McCulloch to taint the jury pool so that if there was a future indictment, Wilson couldn’t be convicted? Releasing all of that stuff is suspicious to me.
Speaking of sociopaths, Son of Steve Cole strikes me as one of these people who secretly wants anarchy so that they can feel a little better about their own pathetic lives. Just sayin.
@samiam: one-note-troll is one note
@Poopyman: They can’t tell the difference between a banana and a gun? I hope their benefit package includes periodic eye exams.
Wilson’s comments reminded me of George Zimmerman’s very similar comments about shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. What is it with these people who can shoot and kill someone — an unarmed teenager — and later have no regrets, claim they’d do it again? It’s mind-boggling.
1. Theoretically yes, but don’t hold your breath.
2. I consider that unlikely. Others will surely disagree.
@Thoughtful David: They discussed point 2 on Maddow last night but in a slightly different context. The question was did releasing the material taint the jury pool for a civil wrongful death trial. The Brown family lawyer didn’t see that as a problem if the family decided to go that route.
I suppose it would require having a new prosecutor, before there would be any chance of a new Grand Jury.
So, in Missouri, are prosecutors elected or appointed? I would think this would be the next step for Ferguson and in general: get rid of these evil prosecutors.
Thanks. It just seems to me mighty fishy to release all of these documents, since that is not normally done. The Grand Jury process in this case seems to me to be very highly suspicious (duh!).
He will kill again and people will be act surprised.
Kobe Bryant is saying that as well:
@debbie: I hope that lady’s on a pistol team somewhere. They’ll win every competition they enter.
Those are the right questions. Missouri law regarding self-defense (in common, i suspect, with the laws of far too many other states) seems to me to be absurdly pro-shooter. Fixing that would require a lot of crackers and Neanderthals to lose their seats in the Legislature.
Outmoded attitudes and stupid policies have remarkable staying power,
In his testimony Wilson stated that Brown (though unarmed and shot) presented a threat to other cops, and the community at large. So Brown was being brave and doing his duty by chasing him.
All complete hooey of course, but consistent with Wilson’s portrayal of Brown as a raging demon.
Tone In DC
I walked past a TV today, where Wilson was justifying his actions and going on about being right to shoot.
I couldn’t walk away from that fast enough.
Those conversations Kobe mentioned won’t happen, in my opinion. Sad as that is. Too many people out here do not want to engage in anything approaching honest dialogue about these subjects.
I doubt that Wilson is a true sociopath. He’s probably nice to his family and friends and kind to animals.
What he is, is a racist. He doesn’t feel remorse for killing Mike Brown because, to him, Brown was not human, or at least not as human as Wilson’s friends and family. Wilson would have felt much worse if he’d killed a “real” person, i.e. someone white. But killing a sub-human? Why would anyone regret doing that? It’s like killing a rat that’s eating your food.
There was a book written by the science fiction writer A.E.. Van Vogt, The Violent Man. Well worth the read about an individual that felt justified, just like this. These are the psycopaths in our society. From other behavior of Wilson, it’s obvious, he’s one.
@Mnemosyne: This seems like a distinction without a difference
Not really. The hallmark of sociopathy (or psychopathy) is that they treat everyone around them badly, including friends and family. That’s different than being a racist who only treats people of a specific race or religion badly.
I know we all want to believe that there’s something weird and deviant about Wilson that would allow him to do this without remorse, but I don’t think there is. I think he’s just a bog-standard American racist with a gun, and he feels no remorse because he doesn’t think Mike Brown was really human. Not because he has a personality disorder or other deep psychological problem, but because he’s a racist.
@SatanicPanic: It isn’t though. True psychopaths are rare. But anyone can be persuaded to kill something that’s not human:
@Mnemosyne: So do you think it would be plausible that at some point he could meet some black man, hopefully in prison, decide that black people aren’t so bad and then suddenly he’d be wracked with guilt? I don’t know, I find that kind of far-fetched. I mean, I get what you’re saying, but in 2014, in a nation where a very good number of people aren’t white it’s kind of… I don’t know, just doesn’t seem all that important. But I’m cynical and I tend to be of the opinion that racism and sociopathy both have only one cure.
The lack of empathy and missmanaged messaging to me has been the true inflammatory cause of this ongoing crisis. Not just Wilson, but the entire police infrastructure in Ferguson and St Louis County could have difused this from the get go but chose not to. To this day, the Mayor has not “paid a call” (as they used to say in the south), at the boy’s family. In doing that, they are not acquiescing to having some sort of guilt but just showing humanity and respect for the citizens of their town…Just that effort – even if imperfect, would have gone far.
I am not completely unsympathetic to Wilson. I don’t get paid 30K to put myself at risk and Lord knows, everyone can be armed to the teeth these days. Many of these cops are not super bright and many are recruits with former training in the military — which has a totally different mission that is not fully expunged during police training.
This cannot be fully litigated or coerced to reach some sort of peace. I am hoping that someone in the upper echelons of the Missouri Law Enforcement will get some sort of enlightenment –and that the people of Ferguson will take their activism into the voting booth. I hope anyway
yup, folks; we have another george zimmerman on our hands, replete with media benefits.
just what this country needed about now.
Quaker in a Basement
it’s easy to keep your conscience clean if you never take it out and use it.
@debbie: 40 years ago I drew my dad’s revolver on a guy who was trying to break into our bakery truck in down town LA. I had no clue who he was as I could not see his face through the frosted glass at the back of the truck. I yelled at him telling him I had a gun and I’d shoot him if he turn the handle. He ran off and I dissolved into a pool of tears. I was 16 and have never touched a gun since.
I think about that incident every day even decades later: what would have happened if he hadn’t stopped, what would I have done, would be alive, would I be mentally ill from hurting or killing another human being. That this thing walking in human flesh can have a clear conscience and suffer nothing for his destruction of a human life is beyond me.
I think you’ve seen too many bad movies. It doesn’t usually work like that. But, yes, there are definitely cases of out-and-out white supremacists recanting their racist beliefs. I can’t get to it from the phone, but there was a story a couple of years ago about a guy in his 20s who was a white supremacist leader who ended up recanting and having his tattoos painfully removed. There are entire organizations who help people do this — it’s similar to rehabilitating gang members.
Are you going to be able to wake up your 60-year-old uncle who’s going to be spouting racist shit at Thanksgiving tomorrow? Probably not. But it’s not nearly as hopelessly ingrained as you seem to think.
Sociopathy is inborn and incurable. Racism is not.
There is a StoryCorps video that can be found on youtube that animates the story told by a man who fought in WWII and how haunted he remained 50+ years later over killing. That, as with so many other StoryCorps videos always moves me to tears.
The mid-terms had me vowing to quit reading about US politics, do some detox now that I’m across the pond (for years now). I actually put off reading about this verdict, I just knew it was going to be this way.
But I can’t quit you!!!!!!!!!!
I believe that the only real “fix”to this particular situation is for every black voting eligible person in the Ferguson community to get active and take it to the voting booth. No more excuses. Without that, there will be no satisfaction. These people “jes don care”. They feel entitled to do what they want using absolute power with no sensitivity to the community. Period. You – YOU Fergusonites, have to make them sensitive. Stop grieving, and seething — get your wits about you and start planning and doing what truly needs to be done.
Probably some time around “never” – I’ve seen Internet commentaries (for what those are worth) still describing Darren Wilson as a slight guy of 5’7″. But minimizing the size disparity between Officer Wilson and victim might upset “The Narrative”, so, then “never”….
Death Panel Truck
I listen to the BBC World Service every day. It’s “The World’s Radio Station.” It’s eight hours ahead of me, but it’s a refreshing oasis in a sea of cacophony. No one screams hysterically at each other. Perhaps that’s because the U.K. is more civilized than we are.
Tree With Water
“Oxford town, Oxford town, everyone’s got their head hung down, sun don’t shine above the ground, ain’t a going down to Oxford town”.
Zimmerman of Florida must be green with envy today.
That fighter pilot that Cole refers to was the subject of a documentary that chronicled his own WW2 experience. It’s one of the finest first person accounts of WW2 I’ve ever seen. His squadron flew off the first American airfield in France, built on the cliff above Omaha beach. His curiosity got the better of him there, so one day he joined an infantary outfit for a patrol. They ran into a fight, and he was forced to dive for cover, straight onto-and-into the corpse of a rotting German soldier, whose goo he was forced to lay in for hours. Months later, ack-ack caused his P-38 to catch fire, and rather than burn to death he pointed the plane’s nose straight down, preferring that death to burning alive. To his amazement, the dive snuffed out the flames. He also tells the story that Cole refers to, a time he was hedge hopping when suddenly a long chow line of enemy soldiers filled his gunsight. I don’t recall the documentary’s name (or the pilot), but he flew a Thunderbolt, was from Minnesota, and the film was released on PBS within the last 10-15 years.
And Cole is right in discerning a fundamental decency abided in him throughout, in spite of it all. The pilot understood where duty ended, and where his conscience began, and he didn’t confuse the two.
@Tree With Water:
That was Quentin Aanenson. He died a few years ago.
It vaguely reminds me of Sarah Palin’s “no, of course I’ve got no second thoughts, you gotta jump on the opportunity when it comes!” quote in re whether she ever thought twice about the vice presidency.
Same mentality. Just, the topic here is orders of magnitude worse.
This is a common mentality in right-wingers — absolute certainty, no doubt, no ambiguity. Part of what draws people to conservatism is this craving for certainty and absolutism that looks a lot like mental illness to the rest of the world.
Bush was always going on about his “resolve”, how he had no doubts, no regrets about this or that stupid decision, and still didn’t years later when it was considered disastrously wrong by everyone but him. Certainty is considered a virtue in itself, even when it leads to disaster.
This mentality is a big part of what makes right-wingers/Repukes such spectacular fuckups when they are given responsibility, a complete refusal to question themselves. All they’re good at is being spoilers from the sidelines.
It’s also a common characteristic of sociopaths. They can go far if they’re ruthless enough, because they’re not slowed down by self-doubt or regrets and will do horrible things without flinching because in their mind they’re always right.
I am in Europe, and the newspapers here run a story about a psycho (big guy) wielding an ax in an hospital. The Police was called. A policeman was wounded, and shot the guy in self defense. In the legs. That was it. They said there would be an internal inspection to check everything was proper from the cop.
But I guess the German Police are dilettantes: I reckon they shot less than 10 peole dead a year (2013 : 8 dead, and for the whole year 42 bullets ending in a suspect)