Darren Wilson may have been legally vindicated in killing Michael Brown, but in many ways, he doesn’t live like a free man.
Few people know where he lives with his wife and baby daughter. The 29-year-old former Ferguson police officer hasn’t been able to land a new police job, and is haunted by death threats stemming from Brown’s shooting almost exactly one year ago.
Those are among the latest revelations about Wilson’s life as detailed in a profile by The New Yorker. Here are the six things we learned about Wilson:
His mother was a habitual criminal
Wilson was raised in Texas by a mother who was a compulsive thief, according to the New Yorker profile.
His mother, Tonya Dean, even stole money raised for her son’s Boy Scout troop, Wilson told the magazine.
As a teenager, Wilson distrusted his mother so much that he had two bank accounts — one that had little money in it, so his mother couldn’t steal from him, and a secret account where he stashed earnings from his summer jobs.
He said he even warned a friend’s parents to not let her into their house because she’d likely find a way to steal their identities and use their credit cards.
“She never wanted to hurt us,” Wilson said. “But when it came to money she was going to get it, one way or another.”
But his mother managed to avoid prison. She died suddenly when Wilson was a teen, under circumstances that weren’t clear to him at the time.
Wilson now believes she may have committed suicide.
He said he ‘didn’t want to work in a white area’
After his mother’s death, Wilson worked in construction before deciding to become a police officer. He said he wanted to work in the “North County” area of St. Louis County, Missouri, which had more black residents as well as higher crime rates.
He said the thought working in the area could boost his career.
“If you go there and you do three to five years, get your experience, you can kind of write your own ticket,” Wilson told The New Yorker’s Jake Halpern.
He landed a job in the town of Jennings, which was 90% black and largely impoverished. But he struggled to interact well with the community and sought the help of field training officer Mike McCarthy — a white officer who had gained street credibility with many of the town’s black residents.
“Mike, I don’t know what I’m doing,” he recalled telling McCarthy. “This is a culture shock. Would you help me? Because you obviously have that connection, and you can relate to them. You may be white, but they still respect you. So why can they respect you and not me?”
McCarthy gave Wilson a slew of pointers, telling him to loosen up, joke with residents and never condescend.
“Darren was probably the best officer that I’ve ever trained — just by his willingness to learn,” McCarthy told the magazine.
Eventually, Wilson was laid off from the Jennings police department and had to find a job elsewhere.
“When I left Jennings, I didn’t want to work in a white area,” Wilson said. “I liked the black community. I had fun there. . . . There’s people who will just crack you up.”
He hasn’t been able to get another police job
Wilson said he’s tried to find police work elsewhere, but hasn’t been able to find a job.
After a grand jury declined to indict him, he wanted to get back on the streets of Ferguson. But he was told he’d be a liability, Wilson told the magazine.
He worked for two weeks at a boot store, stocking inventory, but quit when reporters started calling the store.
“No matter what I do, they try to get a story off of it,” he said.
Wilson said he’s still able to go to restaurants with his wife and have some semblance of a normal life — he just has to do so carefully.
“We try to go somewhere — how do I say this correctly? — with like-minded individuals,” he said. “You know. Where it’s not a mixing pot.”