By Charlotte Alter
November 26, 2014

The Ferguson police officer whom a grand jury has chosen not to indict in the August shooting death of an unarmed teenager said in an interview Tuesday he would not have done anything differently because he was trying to save his own life.

In an interview that aired Tuesday evening with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, Darren Wilson recalled the incident and said, “The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right.” The sit-down marked his first since Monday evening’s announcement that a grand jury had declined to charge him for the killing of Michael Brown, which ignited bouts of looting and arson in Ferguson despite state efforts to prepare for the possibility of violence. Demonstrations from New York City to Los Angeles played out into the night.

MORE: Ferguson Erupts Again After Cop Cleared in Killing

On Aug. 9, Wilson said he and Brown, who was 18, got into a physical altercation after he approached him, and that Brown threw the first punch, hitting the left side of his face. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to withstand another hit like that,” he said.

Over the course of their altercation, which Wilson said involved punching and the slamming of his vehicle’s door, he said he got a sense that Brown, who was 6 ft. 4 in. and 289 lb., could easily overpower him. “I felt the immense power of this man … It was like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.”

Wilson said he threatened to shoot Brown, which is when he said the teen reached for his gun: “He grabbed the top of my gun, and he said, ‘You’re too much of a p—y to shoot me.’” Next, he recalled aiming his gun at Brown “thinking this has to work, otherwise I’m going to be dead.” That moment was apparently the first time he ever fired his gun in the line of duty.

After Brown started walking away, Wilson chased him, explaining “that’s what we were trained to do.” Then, he added, when Brown started to approach him, “he ignored all my commands and just kept running.” The officer said there was “no way” Brown put his hands up, as has been widely reported.

MORE: President Obama Says There Is ‘No Excuse’ for Violence in Ferguson

Wilson said at that point there was nothing he could have done to prevent Brown’s death. When asked if he thought he would have still shot Brown if he had been white, Wilson said there was “no question” he would do the same thing.

“I don’t think it’s a haunting,” he admitted. “It’s always going to be something that happened.” After the short clip, Stephanopoulos added that Wilson expressed sympathy for Brown’s family.

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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