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You Can Now Watch Darren Wilson Tell His Story. You Can't Hear Michael Brown's Side

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Unrest in Ferguson continued for a second night after a grand jury refused to indict Darren Wilson, the police office who shot Michael Brown. In response to Monday’s events, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon increased the National Guard troops from 700 to 2,200. And while the Associated Press report said the clashes were more subdued yesterday, arrests continued and a cop car was set on fire. 

Earlier that night, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos aired Wilson’s first interview. The network billed it as a “tell-all,” in which Wilson insisted he would not have done anything differently. “My job isn’t to just sit and wait. I have to see where this guy goes,” Wilson said.

"The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right,” he added, saying that Brown physically attacked him and made Wilson fear for his life. "I didn't know if I'd be able to withstand another hit like that.”

You can watch a clip of it here:

If you’ve followed the news, little of this should be surprising. This is the version of events Wilson’s supporters have been giving to the media and that he eventually gave to the grand jury. Now he’s getting to give it publicly, on television. Wilson has been cleared legally, but now he gets to clear his name publicly, and maybe not for the last time. 

That’s his right, of course. But there’s another perspective we’ll never hear: Michael Brown’s. His family can speak out in defense, and there are witnesses whose testimony undercuts things Wilson is saying, but Brown can’t speak for himself. He can’t talk about his perceptions—what he was thinking at the time—or give his own account of precisely what happened when.

In this respect, the controversy is similar to the one over the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2012. There are many differences, obviously—Zimmerman was not a uniformed officer, for one thing, and Zimmerman actually went to trial. But, in both instances, the men who pulled the trigger had the opportunity to do television interviews, in order to tell their side of what happened. The victims couldn’t share theirs.

Wilson’s interview didn’t address the nationwide debates over racial injustice and police accountability. It was simply an attempt to rehabilitate his image. Wilson’s TV appearances will probably only exacerbate the tensions, with Ferguson’s frustration still raw.

Rebecca Leber

News on Ferguson

Ian Millhiser counts four ways Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson could still be held accountable in court. (ThinkProgress) 

Ezra Klein argues that Darren Wilson’s account of the day he killed Michael Brown is unbelievable. (Vox)

Noah Feldman describes the arcane roots of grand juries, and prosecutors’ use of the tactic distorted our contemporary justice system. (Bloomberg View)

Megan McArdle entertains the possibility that St. Louis County Chief Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch used a grand jury because he thought a trial would be unwinnable. (Bloomberg View)

Jonathan Chait explains why Obama’s speech felt like a limp noodle: the tradition of liberalism. (New York)

More News from Tuesday:

POLLUTION: Obama will introduce a controversial, long-awaited proposal on tighter ozone standards today (Coral Davenport, New York TimesRebecca Leber laid out why this already has Republicans and big business on edge. 

HOLDER: Attorney General Eric Holder, who has announced that he will be stepping down, called on peaceful protesters in Ferguson to help maintain order and identify anyone who has acted in violence following the grand jury decision not to indict officer Wilson. (Matt Apuzzo, New York Times)

IMMIGRATION: Obama’s immigration action has sparked anger from the Tea Party that is representative of a transformation within the group over the last five years. (Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times)

Articles we’re reading

Weighing the legality of the ACA. Nicholas Bagley, from the University of Michigan, squares off with Case Western's Jonathan Adler and Cato's Michael Cannon over the lawsuits that would wipe out Obamacare insurance markets in three dozen states. (Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law)

But is there a secret handshake? Let Vox’s Andrew Prokop introduce you to a secretive group of liberal donors called the Democracy Alliance, which pours hundreds of millions of dollars into liberal institutions. 

The Stockman Effect. Texas Representative Steve Stockman is sponsoring a bill in the House to study the “Stockman Effect,” a climate change theory based on no scientific literature. It is, however, based off the representative’s imagination. (Mark Strauss, Kinja)

Europe’s Immigration Nightmare. Pope Francis called on Europe to stop the Mediterranean Sea from becoming a “vast cemetery.” This year, 3,200 people have died in the sea while trying to reach Europe. (NBC News)


Danny Vinik writes about the new FDA requirements that movie theaters and chain restaurants post calorie counts on food—and warns that it Americans probably won’t be thinner as a result. Rebecca Leber takes Rand Paul to task for scolding the poor in the aftermath of Ferguson. And following Chuck Schumer’s statements that pursing health care reform was a mistake for the Democrats, Brian Beutler reminds Schumer that he has his history wrong.