For the past 12 days, he has been one of the most villainized men in the country. And he has virtually disappeared.
It’s a matter of safety, some say.
Since his name was released last week, Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, has remained holed up. He hasn’t been seen. He hasn’t been heard from. And any social media accounts he once had have been deactivated, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
One measly picture of him circulating around the Internet is an image released by the city of Ferguson. It shows a slightly-balding man in a blue police uniform apparently exiting a city-council meeting.
“I can’t remember any time in the last 10 years, at least, where somebody’s completely gone into hiding, for fear of his life,” Jonathan Bernstein, president of Bernstein Crisis Management in Los Angeles, told the Post-Dispatch. “Frankly, if I’d been advising his family, the first thing I would have said was, ‘hide.’ In the near term, saving his life is more important than anything else. … He’s had some advice to dive down a hole and take cover for now.”
So what do we know about the man who has managed to keep quiet?
Personal history: He’s 28. He’s divorced. And he was born in Fort Worth, Tex., to Tonya and John Wilson. His mother was a convicted forger and alleged con artist, according to the Associated Press. She died 12 years ago. And he has a younger half-brother.
He graduated in 2004 from St. Charles West High School in Saint Charles, Mo. He played varsity hockey and was on the yearbook staff. According to the Post-Dispatch, “The first page [of the yearbook] shows him with a mop of hair, more like a surfer or rock star than the crew-cut police officer depicted in a recent photo.”
He has Missouri hunting and fishing licenses.
His salary was $45,302, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Now, he’s on paid administrative leave while state and federal prosecutors investigate. For now, no charges have been filed. If he returns to the job, he must undergo two psychological evaluations, police told CNN.
Personality: When identifying Wilson last week, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters he was a “gentle, quiet man.”
Wilson’s longtime high school friend Jake Shepard told the AP: “He’s not the type of person to harbor any hate for anybody. He was always nice, respectable and well-mannered, a gentleman. He doesn’t have anything bad to say about anybody, ever. He’s very genuine.”