Former Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014, used the N-word to describe Black people, according to a court filing introduced in a civil suit against the disgraced officer late last year.
In sworn testimony, Wilson admitted that he and fellow officers had used the racial slur once or twice before, but a lawyer for the ex-officer asserted Monday, March 13, that his client only used the N-word when repeating witness accounts told to him during police investigations.
Wilson’s “admissions” — 173 in total — were in response to declarative claims made by lawyers for the Brown family, which were added to the civil suit docket in late December, according to The Washington Post. When asked whether he’d ever made racially charged remarks as an on-duty officer, the former cop responded through his attorney that, “I’ve repeated a racist remark made by someone else, but I have not made a racist remark against another individual while on duty as a police officer.”
Wilson was then asked more specifically if he had ever used the N-word to describe African-Americans and whether he’d heard fellow officers use the word, too. For both queries, Wilson replied through his attorney, “Admitted.”
“Officer Wilson did admit in discovery responses that he used the n-word and has heard former officer(s) use the n-word on at least one occasion, but he did so while repeating/ reporting what a victim, witness or suspect etc., relayed to him while conducting an investigation or preparing a report,” Greg Kloeppel, Wilson’s attorney, told The Washington Post in an email. “He never used the n-word to refer to an African-American in a racist or derogatory manner and he never repeated a racist joke while on duty.”
The damning revelations come just days after new video footage was released of Brown in the hours before he was gunned down by Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. The footage disputed original claims that the Black teen had robbed a local convenience store but offered little additional insight on the deadly encounter between the ex-officer and Brown.
Wilson said he fired multiple rounds at Brown as the teen doubled back and charged at him after the officer attempted to stop him over the alleged convenience store robbery. The teen was unarmed, but Wilson asserted Brown’s body still counted as a physical threat.
Eyewitnesses presented conflicting reports of what happened, including claims that Brown had punched the officer through the driver’s side window and that Wilson grabbed the teen through the police car window. The former officer has denied grabbing Brown by his clothes, but admitted to, at one point, reaching through the car window to grab Brown by the arm.
A grand jury declined to indict Wilson on any charges related to the shooting in November 2014, sparking fiery protests in cities across the nation. Although the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing, a subsequent investigation by the Department of Justice found that there was racism against Black people in “nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system,” including racist emails and targeted policing.
In July 2016, the Brown family filed an amended complaint alleging that Wilson “unjustifiably shot and killed (Brown) using an unnecessary and unreasonable amount of force in violation of (his) constitutionally guaranteed right to life,” The Washington Post reported. That case is still ongoing.