The parents of Michael Brown said Wednesday they don’t believe Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson’s version of events that left their son dead in the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked unrest in the community and across the country.
Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, told NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday that Wilson’s side of the story added “insult after injury” and called his remarks “so disrespectful.” She described the past 36 hours since a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in the shooting death as “sleepless, very hard, heartbreaking and unbelievable.”
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During his testimony to the grand jury, Wilson said he was fearful for his life when he shot and killed Brown. He described the unarmed 18-year old as looking like a “demon” and said Brown physically overpowered him. At one point he said, “the only way I can describe it is I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.”
Wilson also told ABC News in an interview Tuesday that Brown was the instigator of the fight, reached for his gun and charged at him. “I just did my job,” the police officer said, adding that while he is remorseful anyone had to die, his conscience was clear.
Brown’s father, Michael Brown Sr., said that he didn’t believe Wilson’s account. “For one, my son, he respected law enforcement. Two, who in their right mind would rush or charge at a police officer that has his gun drawn? It sounds crazy,” he told “Today.”
Wilson said in his grand jury testimony in September and in an interview with detectives the day after the shooting that he and Brown were in a physical struggle for the officer’s gun inside the police vehicle. The confrontation eventually moved outside the vehicle. Wilson said Brown had charged at him, after which the officer fired several shots at the teenager, with a fatal blow striking Brown’s head.
Benjamin Crump, the family’s attorney, who accompanied Brown’s parents on “Today,” said when young minorities are killed, the other side often times “tries to demonize and play on stereotypes, and they try to put the police officer who killed our children on a pedestal. It’s just not right, and we have to fix this system.”
The grand jury’s decision sparked riots in Ferguson on Monday night. Local businesses were looted, at least 12 buildings were set ablaze and more than 80 people were arrested in Ferguson and nearby St. Louis. Additional National Guardsmen were deployed to the area on Tuesday night. Demonstrations ensued but it was calmer, although 45 people were taken into custody.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday afternoon – after Monday night’s mayhem– that there would be 2,200 guard members in the region, an increase from the 700 he said were deployed on Monday. The announcement came shortly after Ferguson Mayor James Knowles criticized what he characterized as a delayed deployment of the National Guard on the first night of protests.
“The National Guard was not deployed in enough time to save all our businesses,” Knowles said at a press conference Tuesday at a community center gym. He called the response “deeply disturbing” and requested that Nixon send the necessary resources to protect residents and businesses owners.
Protests over the grand jury decision to not indict Wilson rocked several cities across the country on Tuesday night as well. Thousands of protesters blocked I-580 in Oakland for several hours. A car ploughed through demonstrators during a Ferguson rally in Minneapolis. In New York City, 10 protesters were arrested as hundreds of demonstrators temporarily shut down major streets, highways and bridges. And in Washington, D.C., one group staged a “die in” at police headquarters.
Crump said the case was far from over and that the family was considering federal and civil cases against Wilson. “We plan on exhausting all legal avenues possible to give [Brown’s parents] some sense of justice.”