The white police officer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager in the riot-hit US town of Ferguson said Tuesday he has a “clean conscience” and would do the same thing again.
Darren Wilson said he feared for his life before he drew his gun — the first time he had used his firearm on the job — before opening fire, killing 18-year-old Michael Brown.
“The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right,” Wilson told ABC News, speaking publicly for the first time since the August 9 shooting.
“I don’t think it’s haunting. It’s always going to be something that happened.”
When asked if it would have ended the same way if Brown was white, Wilson answered: “Yes… no question.”
He described Brown as a “powerful man,” comparing him to professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.
“He charged me, he was going to kill me,” he said.
Wilson said he feared Brown would get hold of his gun and said he acted out of self-defense.
“I gave myself another mental check. Can I shoot this guy? Legally, can I? And the question that I answered to myself was, ‘I have to.'”
Wilson said he and his new wife are now hoping to resume their routine: “We just want to have a normal life. That’s it.”
The incident has sparked angry protests across the United States.
Several cities were bracing for more demonstrations Tuesday night, including the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, where 2,200 national guard soldiers were on stand-by.
On Monday, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, sparking a night of rioting in Ferguson, a mainly black town of 21,000 with a mostly white police force.
The jury concluded Wilson had acted lawfully in firing 12 shots at Brown after he first reached into the officer’s car to grapple with him, then turned on him as he gave chase.
Wilson said his gun jammed before he shot the fatal bullets.
“The gun was actually being jammed by his hand on top. So, I tried again, and again another click,” he said. “I pull a third time and it finally goes off.”
According to testimony released Monday, Wilson said Brown had charged at him after the altercation, describing the teenager as a “demon.”
The 28-year-old officer told investigators Brown made “like a grunting, like aggravated sound” and started running at the officer.
The shooting has sparked a nationwide debate about military-style police tactics and race relations in the United States.
Civil rights firebrand Al Sharpton said the Brown case renewed a fight for greater police accountability, and said protests would be staged nationwide on Saturday.