While the nation is watching and hearing the angry protests in support of black shooting victim Michael Brown, a different kind of support is being voiced for the white police officer who fatally shot the unarmed teenager.
In a first account of its kind, a caller to Radio America’s “The Dana Show,” who identified herself only as Josie, told listeners a detailed account of Officer Darren Wilson’s side. A source with detailed knowledge of the investigation says it accurately matched what the officer has told investigators.
“He said all of a sudden, he just started to bum rush him,” she said. “He just started coming at him full speed, and so he just started shooting and he just kept coming.”
“I can even say without speaking to Darren, without even having heard his statements, that at that moment in time, he was scared for his life, I am 100% positive of that,” Wilson’s longtime high school friend Jake Shepard said.
But accounts of exactly what happened between Wilson and Brown vary widely.
Witnesses have said they saw a scuffle between the officer and Brown at a police car before the young man was shot. Several witnesses said Brown raised his hands and was not attacking the officer.
In a rally organized by the “Support Darren Wilson” Facebook page, more than 100 people gathered Sunday in downtown St. Louis to show their support for Wilson.
The Facebook group is gaining attention on social media and has received more than 29,000 likes since its creation on August 9. A second Facebook page, “I Support Officer Wilson,” is almost at 33,000 likes since its creation Friday.
According to the “Support Darren Wilson” page, another rally was set up over the weekend on a bridge that connects Illinois and Missouri. And in a recent post on the page, the group is preparing for another rally this week.
The posts on both pages express frustration about not being heard in the media and allege a lack of support for Wilson and law enforcement.
A recent post on the “I support Officer Wilson” page says, “We started this page to be the voice that law enforcement did not have.” Another post from the same page says that Wilson has overcome a rough childhood himself and that becoming a police officer has helped him to overcome that.
“It has been brought to my attention that Officer Darren Wilson had a very hard childhood and was able to rebound from that childhood becoming a police officer. … This man is a hero now and has always been a hero,” one post reads.
Wilson, 28, who has six years on the force with no disciplinary issues on his record, is on paid administrative leave. If he returns to duty, he will have to undergo two psychological evaluations, authorities said.
Shepard told CNN the officer was the “nicest guy in the world.”
“I could never imagine him even in that situation taking someone’s life, let alone taking someone’s life with malicious intent,” he said.
A post from the “I support Officer Wilson” page says that Wilson is struggling with what he’s done. “This incident and the death of Michael Brown has been very hard for Officer Wilson and he is not handling it well,” it says.
Support from friends, families
Many who say they are wives of law enforcement officers have posted stories about their husbands facing similar situations. Others who say they’re friends of fallen officers have also posted about the grief they have seen when an officer is killed in the line of duty.
KimC shared her support on the St. Louis Police Wives’ Association blog: “Thank you from a Ferguson resident and friend of the officers here in the community. … Thank you for the meals, donations to Darren and constant prayers. God bless you all.”
A crowdfunding campaign for the officer is also gaining traction via fundraising websites. A Gofundme.com campaign raised over $10,000 in less than 24 hours and now has a goal of $100,000. And a Teespring campaign, which sells T-shirts to help raise funds, has sold 1,007 T-shirts, breaking its goal of 1,000 T-shirts.
The outpouring is modest when compared with that for the Brown family. A memorial campaign fund set up by Brown’s parents has raised over $82,363 in the last five days, breaking an $80,000 goal.
By Julia Talanova