This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, January 23, 2015:

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Now that it appears that former Police Officer Darren Wilson will be acquitted of any charges of violating the civil rights of teenage Michael Brown in his shooting death last August, some are suggesting that Wilson will soon be able to resume a normal life. They haven’t read what WebMD has to say about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how George Zimmerman is still having trouble getting his life back on track after being acquitted in June, 2013.

Calling it a “serious condition,” WebMD says that PTSD “can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic or terrifying event in which serious physical harm occurred or was threatened … that cause intense fear, helplessness, or horror.”

Fearing that he might go to jail for a very long time for doing the right thing certainly qualifies Wilson as a potential candidate for PTSD. For George Zimmerman, his PTSD demons continue to haunt him. Within two months of being acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman freaked out. The jury reached its not-guilty verdict in July, 2013 and in September he was detained by police in an incident involving his estranged wife and her father. According to reports, Zimmerman lost his temper and threatened both of them with a gun. After no gun was found and his wife recanted her story, Zimmerman avoided being charged.

Two months later Zimmerman’s new girlfriend called 911 alleging that, after she demanded Zimmerman leave her home, he pointed a shotgun at her and started breaking up the furniture. Hearing sirens, Zimmerman blockaded himself in a bedroom. In this case he was charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence, and criminal mischief, all of which were dropped when is girlfriend refused to testify against him.

Just last month, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after allegedly throwing a bottle at his ex-girlfriend. He remains out on bond.

In fairness it should be noted that Zimmerman began doing some painting, with one of his scenes of an American flag selling on eBay for more than $100,000. Zimmerman said his painting has allowed him to express himself in less damaging ways:

I found a creative way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences. My art work allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet….

It was unlikely from the first that charges would be brought by the DOJ against Wilson for civil rights violations as the standard required to indict is so high. To bring those charges, the department would have had to show that Wilson deliberately and intentionally shot Brown, knowing that he was in the wrong but shooting him anyway. As Ron Hosko, president of Enforcement Legal Fund, said:

[The] DOJ has known from the very beginning that no violation of civil rights occurred when Officer Darren Wilson shot an aggressor, Michael Brown, in self-defense….


Instead of deliberating immediately and issuing their conclusion in the fall, the Administration let the embers of unrest burn, fanned by the rhetoric of opportunistic race dividers.

Small comfort for Wilson, who essentially had to hold his breath for five months. And Attorney General Eric Holder still has to sign off on the DOJ memorandum being drafted explaining its position. And there’s still the strong probability that Brown’s parents will bring a wrongful death suit against Wilson. So he’s far from out of the woods.

Within days of the shooting, Wilson and his girlfriend Barbara Spradling (also an officer with the Ferguson Police Department) moved out of their home in Crestwood, Missouri, about a 30-minute drive from downtown Ferguson. On October 24, Wilson and Spradling were married in a civil ceremony and on November 29, Wilson resigned from the police department, explaining his reasons why:

I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow….


It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community is of paramount importance to me….

Legal analysts at CNN agreed: Wilson’ law enforcement career is over. Wrote Mark O’Mara:

It would be senseless for him to go back to Ferguson. And I don’t even think he can go back [into] law enforcement, for the same reason.


He is … now going to carry with him this mantle that he was the cop who killed the young black kid that sparked the controversy nationwide.

Another CNN analyst, Paul Callan, agreed:

If I’m the mayor of Ferguson, believe me, [I] would want that cop out because you know that he will be controversial. He will be distrusted by the citizenry and maybe subjected to abuse when he’s out on the street.


It’s just going to be nothing but trouble.

According to WebMD and other sources, PTSD symptoms appear within three months of the end of the stressing event. In Wilson’s case, he will continue to have to hold his breath for at least several more months. But after that?

What is clear is that Wilson will always have the “cloud,” the “mantle,” the reputation of being “that cop who shot that black kid in Ferguson that started all those riots.” Even if he did the right thing. Here’s hoping he can move on with his new life without the PTSD baggage from Ferguson.



Washington Times: Justice Dept. working to clear Darren Wilson of civil rights charges: report

The New York Times: U.S. Not Expected to Fault Officer in Ferguson Case

Darren Wilson and the Ferguson shooting

CNN: What’s next for Officer Darren Wilson?

Bio of George Zimmerman Report: DOJ Won’t Pursue Federal Charges for Ferguson’s Darren Wilson

Darren Wilson’s Resignation Letter

The New York Times: A Quiet Wedding for Darren Wilson

WebMD: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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