Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns
Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly four months ago, is resigning, according to his attorney.
The resignation comes less than a week after a grand jury decided not to indict him for the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9.
Wilson, 28, had been on administrative leave since the shooting. His attorney Neil Bruntrager said Wilson's resignation is effective immediately upon announcement Saturday.
However, a spokeswoman for the city of Ferguson said city officials have not yet received the resignation letter, and said Chief Tom Jackson is not commenting.
Bruntrager said Wilson is not receiving any kind of severance pay or pension. He provided St. Louis Public Radio with an emailed copy of Wilson's resignation letter:
I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. 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 I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supports and fellow officers throughout this process.
Wilson spent four years on the Ferguson police force. Before that, he spent two years in the neighboring city of Jennings before that department was disbanded. Chief Tom Jackson said in August that Wilson had no disciplinary action taken against him in that time.
Wilson's resignation won't cost him his peace officer license, essentially his ability to be a police officer in the state of Missouri. But former Ferguson Mayor Brian Fletcher said while Wilson's decision to resign wasn't unexpected and that he didn't have to resign, he doesn't see Wilson ever being a police officer again.
"Whether officially his license is removed or unofficially, I think it would be very unlikely that he’ll ever seek law enforcement again, unless it’s in a private manner," Fletcher said. "He's had a chance to think about this. For everybody's sake, both the community and Darren Wilson's sake and the Brown family, I think he’s made the right decision."
Saint Louis University law professor Roger Goldman said because the grand jury decided not to charge Wilson with a crime, it would be difficult for an administrative commission to strip Wilson of his license.
The grand jury heard evidence for 25 days total over the course of about three months. Wilson told grand jurors that he feared for his life when Brown hit him and grabbed for his gun. In subsequent interviews, he said while he feels sympathy for the Brown family over the loss of their son, he felt he did his job correctly.
Violent protests erupted after the grand jury's decision was announced Monday night by St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. More than a dozen buildings in Ferguson and neighboring towns burned or were looted in riots.
St. Louis Public Radio has reached out to the Brown family's attorney for comment on Wilson's resignation, but they did not immediately return calls or emails. Brown's family has previously said they are still hoping the U.S. Department of Justice brings federal civil rights charges against Wilson. The federal government is also doing what is called a "pattern and practice" investigation into the Ferguson police department.
In the meantime, Fletcher said he hopes both the Brown family and Wilson's family can "find peace and comfort" and that the community can move forward.
"I hope the community can start to heal and recover," he said. "It’s been a tragic situation for all involved, including businesses and residents. I’m sure no one wanted this to happen by any means, and we want them all blessed by God."
The resignation was not surprising to activists in the community, but few said they thought it would help.
Charles Wade, who helped create Operation Help Or Hush to provide support to protesters and community activists, said on Twitter that a resignation was not enough.
Patricia Bynes, the Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson Township, said Wilson was too low on the totem pole to make a difference.
"There are so many other people who are responsible through bad decision-making for getting us to this point," Bynes said. "The governor. I think we need to be questioning [St. Louis County] chief [Jon] Belmar, [Ferguson police chief Tom] Jackson, Bob McCulloch. There are so many other people involved who need to be held accountable and responsible."
Bynes said she would like to see hearings in Jefferson City as to why the National Guard was not deployed to prevent looting and arson after the grand jury decision was announced on Monday. The mayors of Dellwood and Ferguson have asked similar questions.