Video: Ferguson officer lauded for struggle with previous suspect

Jason Sickles

The Ferguson, Missouri, police officer facing possible charges for recently killing an unarmed young man was commended earlier this year for wrestling and restraining another suspect.

Officer Darren Wilson received the commendation for his “extraordinary effort in the line of duty” at a Feb. 11 City Council meeting.

Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. (Facebook/AP Photo)

New video turned over by the city under Missouri's open records law shows Wilson being presented his award and shaking hands with Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

Jackson tells the packed council chamber that Wilson earned the award “in recognition of outstanding police work while investigating a suspicious vehicle call.

“Acting alone you struggled with one subject and was able to gain control of the subject and his car keys until assistance arrived,” Jackson said.

No other details of the incident are known. On Monday, Yahoo News requested police reports and any other documentation related to the February commendation. An attorney for the city said on Wednesday that the city is searching for the records.

Wilson, 28, has been on paid leave since the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Brown, who was black, was shot multiple times in broad daylight by Wilson, who is white.

[Related: Grass-roots support campaigns for Officer Wilson gaining ground]

An independent autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family reveals he was struck by at least six bullets, including two in the head. The St. Louis County medical examiner's autopsy found that Brown was shot six to eight times in the head and chest, office administrator Suzanne McCune told The Associated Press. No other details from the autopsies have been made public.

Authorities have not released their official version of why Brown was shot. Last week, Jackson said Wilson was attempting to get Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, to stop walking in the middle of the street when Wilson realized the pair fit the description of suspects sought in the theft of cigars from a nearby convenience store.

A scuffle ensued and, according to Jackson, a shot was fired inside the officer’s squad car as Brown attempted to grab Wilson’s gun. Some eyewitness statements and a forensic analysis suggest that Wilson suffered an injury when Brown allegedly punched him in the car, The New York Times reported, citing law enforcement sources. A source told ABC News that it was a "serious facial injury.”

But Johnson and other witnesses have reportedly given local and federal investigators a different account of the fatal altercation. They say that Wilson was the initial aggressor and that he shot Brown, who was trying to flee but had stopped and put his hands up in surrender.

[Related: U.S. attorney general in Missouri after week of protest]

The Times, citing law enforcement sources, reported that Wilson claims to have fired in self-defense after Brown lowered his arms and moved toward him.

Wilson, a Ferguson police officer for less than three years, has a clean record of service, Jackson said last week. On Wednesday, Ferguson city attorney Stephanie Karr responded to Yahoo News' records request for any complaints against or commendations for Wilson.

In an email, Karr said only that Wilson was hired Oct. 3, 2011, and earns $45,302 annually.

"All other personnel records pertaining to Officer Wilson are closed and not subject to disclosure under the Sunshine Law provision referenced above and any other pertinent statute or regulation regarding such records," Karr added.

Before Ferguson, the officer worked two years for the now-defunct Jennings Police Department. Wilson posses a valid Class A peace officer’s license from the state, according to Mike O’Connell, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety. A Yahoo News request for Wilson’s licensing and training records from the state has not been answered.

A St. Louis County Circuit Court grand jury began hearing testimony about the shooting on Wednesday.

The grand jury usually meets on Wednesdays, but Ed Magee, spokesman for St. Louis County's prosecuting attorney, told Yahoo News “we will attempt to get them in at other times to move this case along.”

(Editor's note: The city of Ferguson responded after this article was first published. The story was updated with its reply at 2:20 p.m. CT.)

Follow Jason Sickles on Twitter (@jasonsickles).