In the spring of 2015, less than a year after the shooting death of Michael Brown, I spent an afternoon with former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.
An attorney friend of Wilson’s told me Wilson was interested in writing a book, and he asked me to meet with the recently exonerated police officer.
I was happy to oblige. Over the years, I have helped 15 or so people with their books, all more famous than I, with everything from editing to ghostwriting.
Wilson’s saga interested me more than the rest. The reason is simple enough. My father, my uncle and five or so of my cousins were or are police officers.
No cause was closer to my heart than that of the falsely accused cop, and no cop in recent memory has been accused more falsely or publicly than Wilson.
Apparently, that accusation survived Wilson’s exoneration by both a St. Louis County grand jury and Barack Obama’s Department of Justice under Eric Holder.
On Aug. 9, the fifth anniversary of Brown’s death, at least nine Democratic presidential candidates strongly suggested that Wilson got away with murder, and two of them openly said as much.
“Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America,” tweeted Kamala Harris. “His tragic death sparked a desperately needed conversation and a nationwide movement.”
“Murder”? Harris has no excuse for language this reckless. She was the attorney general of California.
Apparently smarting from her ancestors’ treatment on the Trail of Tears, Elizabeth Warren identified with the injustice done to her fellow minority. “Five years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri,” she tweeted for those who might have forgotten Wilson was white.
The tweet got stupider from there. “Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times,” wrote Warren, showing her ignorance both of police tactics in general and the facts of this case in particular.
“I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael,” Warren continued, further proving her unfitness for higher office. “We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.”
Warren and Harris, I am confident, never met Darren Wilson. If they had, they would at least hesitate before floating such inflammatory nonsense.
I met Wilson at the home he shared with his wife, baby daughter and two stepsons in a working class suburb south of St. Louis. They bought the house through a proxy, lest his address be traceable by the many people who have threatened his life.
We spent the afternoon pushing his newborn in her little swing and talking about a life that defined the phrase “white privilege” down.
Raised by an alcoholic mother, who was also a chronic identity thief, Wilson was pretty much on his own after his mother committed suicide when he was about 17.
In becoming a cop, he found the stability and discipline he needed. He enjoyed working in the tough, largely black northern suburbs of St. Louis, and by all accounts he was a solid, responsible cop. At least he was before he became “a murderer.”
At the time we met, Wilson was unemployed. He had resigned under duress from the Ferguson PD and had been strongly discouraged from applying for police jobs elsewhere.
A little suspicious of me at first, Wilson was still reeling from an extended interview his attorney had arranged with New Yorker writer Jake Halpern. He and I hit it off, in no small part because the world I grew up in was much closer to Wilson’s than was Halpern’s.
Wilson did not much like the Yalie Halpern and certainly did not trust him. Halpern rewarded his distrust with a snippy, condescending article that came out that August.
The problem for Halpern was that Wilson, who had been tested in ways Halpern never would be, left little evidence that he was the racist of the New Yorker’s fevered imagination.
So Halpern resorted to all the illiberal tricks of the progressive writer’s trade to hang the racist label on Wilson whether he deserved it or not.
Like Warren and Harris, Halpern could not even fake empathy for a 29-year-old guy whose life was in danger and career in tatters.
The book never came to be. Wilson was game, but the attorneys involved could never quite get it together. That happens.
I have not talked to Wilson since that afternoon. A quick Google search turns up nothing recent. I suspect he and his family slipped into anonymity, ideally somewhere far from St. Louis.
They have every reason to remain anonymous – especially during Democratic primary season when soulless candidates do their reckless best to stoke the flames of race war.