There is more than one St. Louis-area police officer named Darren Wilson

August 15, 2014
Authorities in Ferguson, Mo. have identified Darren Wilson as the officer who shot Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen killed after an altercation with police. Wilson is a six-year veteran of the Ferguson Police Department. (Reuters)

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Friday identified the officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force.

There’s more than one Darren Wilson who works in St. Louis-area law enforcement, however — and if you Googled “Darren Wilson police” immediately after the name was released, there’s a good chance you found the wrong guy.

Darren Wilson — a sergeant with the St. Louis Police Department and president of the Ethical Society of Police — is not the Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old whose death has sparked protests in Ferguson, Mo. That’s according to a statement posted on Facebook shortly after the news conference in Ferguson.

“The first thing we would like to assure the world is that this is a horrific coincidence,” the statement reads. “May I assure the world that this is not the President of the Ethical Society of Police’s Sergeant Darren R. Wilson who is African American, and happens to be an 18 year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department.”

The Ethical Society of Police is a group that “represents African-American police officers,” according to a 2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, which now carries an editor’s note to clarify Wilson’s identity in the piece.

E-mails and messages left with Wilson, the St. Louis police sergeant, were not immediately returned Friday.

At least two names floated around the Internet prior to Friday’s news conference — and on Thursday, the hacking group Anonymous tried to ID the officer involved. But the name it released was wrong, officials said.

USA Today spoke with the stepmother of the man whose name Anonymous had connected to the Brown shooting. She told the paper that he was a dispatcher in a St. Louis suburb, not a police officer in Ferguson.

“Wow, this is not good,” the woman reportedly said, as she cried.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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Mark Berman · August 15, 2014