Criminal Justice

Ferguson officer's first job was on a police force disbanded amid racial tensions and probe

The Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown had a prior job on a police force that disbanded amid racial tensions and a probe into misuse of grant money.

The officer, Darren Wilson, was never subject to disciplinary action in the prior police department in Jennings, Missouri, report the Washington Post and the New York Times. His new job in Ferguson likely paid more money, and he received a commendation this year for subduing a man in a suspected drug transaction.

In Jennings, 89 percent of the residents were black but the 45-member police department had only one or two black officers, a city council member told the Post. The city council voted to disband the force in 2011, opting to hire St. Louis County to run the department. The probe into grant money found a lieutenant used grant money to pay for DUI checkpoints that never took place, the stories say.

More details about Wilson’s childhood and personal life are also emerging. Wilson’s parents were divorced when he was 2 or 3 years old, and his mother married two more times, the Post says. His mother pleaded guilty to forgery and stealing when Wilson was a freshman in high school and she died when he was 16. Wilson filed for divorce last year and it is now final.

According to the Times, people who knew Wilson “paint a portrait of a well-mannered, relatively soft-spoken, even bland person who seemed, if anything, to seek out a low profile—perhaps, some suggested, a reaction to a turbulent youth.”

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