CLAYTON, MO – In an unusual step after a grand jury deliberation, transcripts of testimony that jurors heard considering Michael Brown’s death have been released to the public.
Grand jury proceedings are secret, and when no indictment is handed down — as was the case for Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson — the files remain locked up.
But given the scrutiny of this incident, officials made available 24 volumes of material, covering 23 meetings that the grand jury held between August 20 and November 21.
A CNN team is going through all of the court documents, starting with Wilson’s testimony. Here’s what has emerged so far from that review:
Wilson said he feared Brown could beat him to death
Officer Wilson told the grand jury that Brown punched him in the face when the officer drove back to him after identifying him as a possible suspect in a shop theft, according to the documents that were released by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch.
Wilson said he tried to get out of his cruiser but Brown slammed the door shut twice and hit him with his fist.
“I felt that another of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse … I’ve already taken two to the face and I didn’t think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right,” Wilson said, according to the transcripts.
Wilson said Brown kept running through shots
Wilson testified he shot at Brown on the street when Brown turned on him.
“As he is coming towards me, I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot a series of shots. I don’t know how many I shot, I just know I shot it,” he said, according to the documents released Monday night.
“I know I missed a couple, I don’t know how many, but I know I hit him at least once because I saw his body kind of jerk,” he said.
Wilson testified that Brown did not slow down.
“At this point I start backpedaling and again, I tell him get on the ground, get on the ground, he doesn’t. I shoot another round of shots,” he said, according to the released testimony.
“Again, I don’t recall how many him every time. I know at least once because he flinched again. At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I’m shooting at him.
“And the face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even anything in his way.”
He told the jurors he thought Brown was going to tackle him.
“Just coming straight at me like he was going to run right through me. And when he gets about that 8 to 10 feet away, I look down, I remember looking at my sites and firing, all I see is his head and that’s what I shot.
“I don’t know how many, I know at least once because I saw the last one go into him. And then when it went into him, the demeanor on his face went blank, the aggression was gone, it was gone, I mean, I knew he stopped, the threat was stopped.
“When he fell, he fell on his face.”
Wilson was carrying mace, not a stun gun
Wilson told the grand jury he didn’t normally carry a stun gun.
“We only have a select amount. Usually there is one available, but I usually elect not to carry one. It is not the most comfortable thing. They are very large. I don’t have a lot of room in the front for it to be positioned,” he told the grand jury.
The officer testified he was carrying mace when he encountered Brown.
Wilson said Brown reached under his shirt
Brown put his hand under his shirt into his waistband when he ran at Wilson, Wilson told the grand jury.
“He turns, and when he looked at me, he made like a grunting, like aggravated sound and he starts, he turns and he’s coming back towards me,” Wilson said.
“His first step is coming towards me, he kind of does like a stutter step to start running. When he does that, his left hand goes in a fist and goes to his side, his right one goes under his shirt in his waistband and he starts running at me.”
Wilson testified area where Michael Brown was shot was ‘hostile environment’
Wilson called the area where Brown was shot a “hostile environment,” according to his grand jury testimony released Monday night.
“There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity, it is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.”
Wilson testified he hoped to arrest Brown
Wilson told the grand jury his original goal was to arrest Brown.
“My main goal was to keep eyes on him and just to keep him contained until I had people coming there,” he testified.
“I knew I had already called for backup and I knew they were already in the area for the stealing that was originally reported. So I thought if I can buy 30 seconds of time, that was my original goal when I tried to get him to come to the car. If I could buy 30 seconds of time, someone else will be here, we can make the arrest, nothing happens, we are all good. And it didn’t happen that way.”
Wilson had never used his weapon on duty before the Brown shooting
Wilson had never fired his gun on duty before shooting Michael Brown, he told the grand jury.
Asked if he had ever used excessive force before, he replied: “I’ve never used my weapon before,” according to his testimony.
Kristi Ramsay, Devon Sayers and Eve Bower contributed to this report.
By Rachel Clarke and Mariano Castillo