The white former officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo., last August – igniting riots and a national debate over the relationship between police and black communities – says he's tried to go back to police work but was turned down because he's too big a liability.
"It's too hot an issue, so it makes me unemployable," Darren Wilson, 29, tells the New Yorker
magazine in its latest edition, adding that he tries not to brood about the rejection.
"I bottle everything up."
In the interview, which took place over several sessions, the magazine reports, Wilson also was asked what he would do if he was offered a job back at the Ferguson department.
"I would want to do it for a day," Wilson said, to show people he wasn't "defeated."
The magazine reports Wilson lives with his wife, Barbara, 37, their baby daughter, who was born in March, and two stepchildren, on the outskirts of St. Louis. His name isn't on the deed and only a few friends know where he lives, the magazine reports.
He also hasn't read the Justice Department's report
on the systemic racism in Ferguson that grew out of the furor over Wilson's killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 2014, and the lack of an indictment in the case.
"I don't have any desire," he tells the New Yorker. "I'm not going to keep living in the past about what Ferguson did. It's out of my control."
Yet he insisted Ferguson's force had a few bigoted members and denied racism was institutional, calling the Justice Department's numbers "skewed."
"You can make those numbers fit whatever agenda you want," he said.
Wilson declined to speak specifically about the confrontation with Brown, but said of the aftermath:
"Neither [he nor his wife] knew what the reaction was going to be the next day," Wilson tells the New Yorker. "You know, a typical police shooting is: you get about a week to a week and a half off, you see a shrink, you go through your Internal Affairs interviews. And then you come back."
His wife added: "I didn't think it would be a big weight on his shoulders. This is kind of what we signed up for."
But when they turned on their television an saw the live coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, Wilson's wife said, "We stayed up all night watching, like, 'Oh, my God — what's going on? What are they doing?'"
Barbara Wilson's younger son asked why there were pictures of Ferguson on fire, and Wilson said he responded, "I said, 'Well, I had to shoot somebody.' And he goes, 'Well, why did you shoot him? Was he a bad guy?' I said, 'Yeah, he was a bad guy.'"
Speaking about his first job in another largely black community near Ferguson, Wilson tells the magazine: "I am really simple in the way that I look at life."
"We can't fix in thirty minutes what happened thirty years ago," he said. "We have to fix what's happening now. That's my job as a police officer. I'm not going to delve into people's life-long history and figure out why they're feeling a certain way, in a certain moment. I'm not a psychologist."
And he said race hadn't affected the way he did police work.
"I never looked at it like 'I'm the only white guy here.' I just looked at it as 'This isn't where I grew up'," he said. "When a cop shows up, it's, like, 'The cops are here!' There's no 'Oh, shit, the white cops are here.'
"If you live in a high-crime area, with a lot of poverty, there's going to be a large police presence. You're going to piss people off. If police show up, it's because it's something bad, and whoever's involved can't figure out the problem for themselves."
"Everyone is so quick to jump on race. It's not a race issue," he added, noting there were two opposing views about policing.
"There are people who feel that police have too much power, and they don't like it," he said. "There are people who feel police don't have enough power, and they don't like it."
But he tells the New Yorker when he left Jennings, "I didn't want to work in a white area. I liked the black community. I had fun there. . . . "
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