Police: Darren Wilson had faced no disciplinary action prior to shooting

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:50am

Darren Wilson was just one of 53 officers in a small-town police department until his encounter with a unarmed 18-year-old last Saturday on a street in Ferguson, Missouri.

Authorities, citing death threats, had refused to release Wilson's name in the days after he fatally shot Michael Brown.

A resident of the St. Louis area, Wilson has been staying at a secure location since the shooting.

On Friday, Police Chief Thomas Jackson disclosed the identity of the man whose actions sparked sometimes violent protests and thrust the quiet community of Ferguson, Missouri, population 22,400, into the national spotlight.

It was not known whether Wilson, an officer for six years, has been placed on modified assignment. Jackson told reporters the officer had faced no disciplinary action during his time on the job.

Hours after Wilson's name was released, however, little further information about the officer emerged. The disclosure of his identity, in fact, was overshadowed by new details from the police implicating Brown in a convenience store robbery.

The claim was immediately greeted with skepticism from some in the community, who have accused Ferguson police of attempting a cover-up to protect the officer.

"I think the focal point here remains to figure how and why Michael Brown was killed," Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters Friday.

Jackson, before speaking to reporters, told CNN's Don Lemon that the officer was "devastated" by what had happened. The chief has described the officer as well-mannered and respectful.

"This is his community," Jackson said. "He never wanted any of this to happen."

Documents released by Ferguson police Friday suggested that Wilson had reason to believe he was encountering a suspect in what Jackson said was a "strong-arm" robbery at a convenience store.

The documents said Wilson, who was treated for injuries after the shooting, was in the area searching for the suspect when he spotted Brown.

Brown was named in the documents as the suspect in a robbery of a $50 box of cigars.

The suspect roughly handled a clerk trying to stop him before walking out of the store with a box of Swisher Sweets cigars, according to the documents.

A police officer who responded to the robbery said he identified Brown as the robbery suspect by comparing surveillance images of the incident to the body of the slain teen. The images, showing a large man grabbing a smaller man by his shirt, were included with the documents released Friday.

Jackson said that on the day of the shooting, the officer had responded to a call about a sick person before receiving a call about the convenience store robbery shortly before noon. Wilson had received a description of the suspect over the radio and tried to stop Brown on the street, Jackson said.

The documents said four to six shots were fired.

Authorities previously had not mentioned reports of a robbery in the area.

Long-simmering tensions between residents, police

Police have said Brown was killed in a struggle for the officer's gun. No one has disputed that Brown was unarmed, but witnesses said he was shot as he tried to distance himself and raised his hands into the air.

Brown, an African-American, was days away from starting college.

The shooting sparked protests and isolated looting incidents, and police response with rubber bullets and tear gas, and arrested dozens of people. Many in the community demanded to know the name of the officer involved in the shooting.

Residents complained about long-simmering tensions between the mostly African-American community and predominantly white police force.

Two-thirds of Ferguson's population is black. The police chief is white. Only three African-Americans are on the 53-person police force.

The mayor also is white, and so are five of the six city council members.

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