The Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown said he feared for his life during his struggle with the 18-year-old, who he said showed extraordinary strength and nearly shot him with his own gun.
During his Sept. 16 grand jury testimony, more than a month after the shooting, Officer Darren Wilson said he never shot at Brown when he had his back turned. He also said he felt small compared to Brown during their fight.
"When I grabbed him the only way I can describe it is I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan," Wilson said. "Hulk Hogan, that's how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm."
The ultimately fatal struggle on Aug. 9 started when Wilson saw Brown and Dorian Johnson walking down the middle of the road as the officer heard a report that someone had stolen a box of cigarillos from a local market on Aug. 9.
Wilson said he asked the pair why they didn't use the sidewalk instead; Brown said, "Fuck what you have to say," and kept walking. The officer, surprised by the response and noting the box of cigarillos in his hand, reversed and cut them off.
When he tried to open the door to his police car, Wilson said Brown slammed it shut. Brown shut the door a second time and started to strike the officer in the face through the open window, Wilson said.
At one point Wilson said Brown cooly handed the cigarillos to Johnson as he continued to pummel the officer.
"I felt that another one of those punches in my face could knock me out or worse," Wilson said. "I've already taken two to the face and I didn't think I would, the third one could be fatal if he hit me right."
Moments later Wilson said he pulled out his gun and said, "Get back or I'm going to shoot you."
"He immediately grabs my gun and says, 'You are too much of a pussy to shoot me,'" Wilson said.
Brown grabbed his gun with his right hand and twisted it, digging the front of the weapon into the officer's hip, Wilson said.
"I distinctly remember envisioning a bullet going into my leg," Wilson said. "I thought that was the next step."
Wilson said he was able to move and point the gun in the direction of where the seat buckle would attach to the floorboard on the side of his car. The officer said he pulled the trigger twice and nothing happened.
The gun went off the third time, shooting through the door panel and spewing glass shards out of the opening. Brown backed away from the car.
Wilson said Brown "had the most intense aggressive face. That's the only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that's how angry he looked."
Brown approached the car again, Wilson said, striking him once before the officer fired another bullet. That's when Brown started running and Wilson started to chase him.
At one point Brown stopped and charged at him, Wilson said, with his right hand under his shirt in his waistband.
"I tell, keep telling him to get on the ground, he doesn't," Wilson said. "I shoot a series of shots. I don't know how many I shot."
Wilson said he missed Brown with some shots, but knew he had struck him at least once because his body jerked. After the smoke cleared, Wilson said he saw Brown continue to barrel toward him.
He fired another series of shots, Wilson said.
"At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I'm shooting at him," Wilson said. "And that face that he had was looking straight through me, like I wasn't even there, I wasn't even anything in his way."
Wilson said he continued backpedaling because "I know if he reaches me, he'll kill me."
The officer fired another series of shots aiming at his head. One of them struck, Wilson said, because Brown's face went blank before he fell on his face.
Wilson later testified that he never shot at Brown when he had his back turned.
Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.
Contact Adolfo Flores at email@example.com.
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