The Ferguson, Mo. Police Department has finally released the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was gunned down six days ago.
Darren Wilson was identified today as the officer who fatally shot Brown. He is a six-year veteran of the force, and had no prior disciplinary action on his record, according to Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson.
On Wednesday, Gawker asked for the public’s help in uncovering the name of the officer involved in the matter. We believed Brown’s family, and the public at large, deserved the right to know the identity of the man who killed their son. Every bullet, we said, must be explicable; every life must be answerable. We believe that transparency is the price of power, and that there must be absolute accountability for the men and women who hold such positions. Officer Wilson must now answer for what he did.
Tensions in Ferguson, which reached a boiling point Wednesday night, have since simmered. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon deployed state troopers to police the St. Louis suburb and help combat concerns of rising police militarization in the area.
As protestors rallied for justice Thursday, a member of the hacktivist collective Anonymous released the name of Bryan P. Willman as the officer who killed Brown. Ferguson PD later refuted the claim via Twitter, writing, “Bryan Willman is not even an officer with Ferguson or St. Louis County PD. Do not release more info on this random citizen.”
But despite the police department’s efforts to conceal the identity of Wilson, witnesses came forward throughout the week to provide first-hand accounts of the bloody ordeal. In an interview with CNN, Tiffany Mitchell recounted what she saw:
“I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but I knew it didn’t look right for someone to be wrestling with the police through the police window, but I didn’t get a video because a shot was fired through the window, so I tried to get out of the way. As I pull onto the side, the kid, he finally gets away, he starts running. As he runs the police get out of his vehicle and he follows behind him, shooting. And the kid’s body jerked as if he was hit from behind, and he turns around and puts his hands up like this, and the cop continued to fire until he just dropped down to the ground and his face just smacks the concrete…I didn’t count the shots, but it was more than about five or six shots… [The officer] was a white male, kind of tall, not too big… The whole thing wasn’t right.
Prior to the release of Wilson’s name, there was speculation that several community members were privy to his identity, and that he had a history of hassling kids in the area. Patricia Bynes, a Democratic Committeewoman in Ferguson, told NPR that “people in the community have told me who the police is. They know who he is. It’s about, I guess, releasing [his name] at the much larger level. But people locally know who the cop is. The kids knew him. They told me that he would harass them all the time.”
The FBI and Department of Justice have yet to release any information regarding their investigations into Brown’s death.
Brown’s life, however, was honored nationwide Thursday, as dozens of peaceful protests, vigils, and marches took place in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Chicago.