One Year Later, Darren Wilson is in hiding after Ferguson

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Bakari Clemmons | Staff Writer

On November 24, 2014, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced at 8:24 P.M. local time that the jury voted not to indict Wilson for the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Since that day, Darren Wilson, now 29, is constantly looking over his shoulder.

August 9, Ferguson along with other protestors across the country observed the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. With the transitioning of a whole calendar year, former St. Louis police officer Darren Wilson is not the only officer to have murdered an unarmed citizen, but he is the only one to share his experience after murder.

With multiple death threats sent to him personally and to the St. Louis police station where he used to work, Wilson does not feel safe. He, his wife and infant daughter have been living in secrecy.

Wilson has been unable to land a job at another police department or anywhere else due to the fact that he would be a “liability” to the company or business.

According to Jake Halpern, contributing writer for The New Yorker, Wilson “has been living for several months on a nondescript dead-end street on the outskirts of St. Louis. Most of the nearby houses are clad in vinyl siding; there are no sidewalks, and few cars around.” Halpern explains his first trip to Wilson’s home:

“This March, I spent several days at his home. The first time I pulled up to the curb, Wilson, who is six feet four and weighs two hundred and fifteen pounds, immediately stepped outside, wearing a hat and sunglasses. He had seen me arriving on security cameras that are synched to his phone.”

Wilson has his house monitored by cameras to protect himself and his family.

A few things learned through Halpern’s profile on Wilson are:

  1. Wilson came from a dysfunctional home.
  2. Wilson did not want to “work in a white area.”
  3. Wilson declines to read the DOJ report on Ferguson.
  4. Wilson is wary about discussing Brown shooting.

Darren Wilson comes from a troubled past. His mother, Tonya Dean, was a perpetual thief. She was notorious for writing false checks and stealing money from others to pay people she owed.

Dean even stole from Wilson in his childhood when he raised money for his Boy Scout troop. Wilson was questionable about whether or not his mother would steal from him again, so he had two separate bank accounts, one nearly empty and the other, full.

Tonya Dean eventually left her first husband, John Wilson, remarried and had a child with Tyler Harris, who managed a Y.M.C.A. Harris also, admitted she had stolen from him.

“Tonya had me in debt—almost twenty thousand dollars—that first year,” Harris told Jake Halpern. In 2002, Tonya Dean died unexpectedly. Wilson believes the cause of her death was suicide.

Darren Wilson decided to become a police officer and had expressed how he did not want to work in a predominately white area. He said that working in a largely black populated community “could boost his career.”

He landed his first job as a police officer in 2009 in Jennings, Missouri, a town that was 90% black and largely impoverished. When Wilson became a police officer in Jennings, he was joining a department that had a reputation for racism. Even black people from other counties tried to stay away from that side of town.

In 2011, Wilson was laid off from the Jennings police department in result of the Jennings City Council voting to shut down the police department and hire St. Louis County to take over.

“When I left Jennings, I didn’t want to work in a white area,” Wilson said. “I liked the black community. I had fun there… There’s people who will just crack you up.”

In March of 2015, the Department of Justice released two significant reports. The first addressing Wilson’s actions, deeming them just, and the second addressing Ferguson police’s treatment and discrimination to the African American citizens in that community. Both of these two reports, Wilson has neglected to read. “I don’t have any desire,” he said, “I’m not going to keep living in the past about what Ferguson did. It’s out of my control.” Wilson also believes the numbers in the reports are “skewed.”

Wilson and writer Jake Halpern discussed how Wilson has avoided talking about Michael Brown much. When asked if he still thinks about Brown, he responded, “You do realize that his parents are suing me? So I have to think about him.”

When the writer asked him if he thought Brown was a “bad guy” or someone who got himself in a “bad situation,” Wilson said, “I only knew him for those 45 seconds in which he was trying to kill me. So I don’t know.”

“Do I think about who he was as a person? Not really, because it doesn’t matter at this point,” Wilson said. “Do I think he had the best upbringing? No. Not at all.” Brown’s family had a “mixed reaction” to the article, family attorney Anthony Gray told CNN’s Don Lemon.

“In one sense, they want to be angry about the things he’s basically saying about their son. On the other hand, they’re not surprised,” Gray said. “I find it really appalling that he would make that reference when he had a terrible upbringing himself, by his own admission.”

As Wilson lives as a free man, legally, he does not live as a free man physically or mentally. He has to live with the fact that he cannot walk down the street with his wife and kid without fearing for his and their lives.

He has to live with not being able to financially provide for his family. Lastly, Wilson has to live with knowing because of his carelessness, the first time he drew his gun resulted in the murder of unarmed Michael Brown. A year ago, those 45-seconds turned into Wilson’s forever.

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