Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown last year, said in an interview published Monday that he does not see race as a factor in day-to-day policing.
“Everyone is so quick to jump on race. It’s not a race issue,” Wilson said in a new profile published by the New Yorker.
Wilson said there are two opposing views about policing: “There are people who feel that police have too much power, and they don’t like it. There are people who feel police don’t have enough power, and they don’t like it.”
In March, the Ferguson Police Department received a scathing review from the Justice Department showing police regularly targeted black residents, fining and arresting them disproportionately. A separate Justice Department report cleared Wilson of any civil rights violations in his confrontation with Brown.
Wilson, who is currently living near St. Louis, told the New Yorker he experienced “culture shock” as a white officer in the mostly black counties around the city where he began his police career. “They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than—what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from,” Wilson said.
When asked to clarify what he meant by “culture,” which the New Yorker noted could sound racially charged, the the former officer said he was referring to a “pre-gang culture” focussed on instant gratification, and that this mentality “is the same younger culture that is everywhere in the inner cities.”
Read the full New Yorker interview here.