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Ferguson mayor says Darren Wilson not asked to resign

The mayor of Ferguson, Mo., says police officer Darren Wilson was not asked to leave the force and will not receive a severance package as part of his resignation.

Michael Brown parents 'not necessarily shocked' by Wilson's resignation

Ferguson reacts to Darren Wilson's resignation

7 years ago
2:53
CBC News speaks with reporter Steve Futterman from police headquarters in Ferguson, where hundreds are marching in a 'journey for justice' 2:53

The mayor of Ferguson, Mo., says police officer Darren Wilson was not asked to leave the force and will not receive a severance package as part of his resignation.

"It's been a threatening environment all along," confirmed James Knowles at a news conference on Sunday. "I think its best that we move on as a community."

Wilson's lawyer said Wilson resigned Saturday because threats had been made against other officers and the department because of his continued employment. The 28-year-old former police officer, who is white, fatally shot Michael Brown in a confrontation in August. A grand jury decided on Monday not to indict him.

Wilson wrote in his resignation letter that his "continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance I cannot allow."

Darren Wilson, shown in a photo by the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office, says he resigned from the Ferguson Police Department because the department told him it had received threats of violence if he remained on the force. (Reuters/St.Louis County Prosecutor's Office)

Knowles also said the city would be looking into actively recruiting minority candidates for their police academy in light of the shooting.

Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who was also at the news conference, said he would not be resigning.

"I report to the leadership of Ferguson, so it's them and the citizens I'm concerned about," said Jackson.

'Personal and professional interest'

The parents of Michael Brown are not 'necessarily shocked' by the news of the resignation of Wilson, says their lawyer.

"Him resigning didn't have much of an effect at all," Anthony Gray, the attorney for the Brown family, said in an interview with CBC News on Sunday. The family will attend a church service where civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to preach.

"This doesn't offset the feelings they have over the no indictment."

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson says he's staying in his job. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

When asked about Wilson's statement that he hoped his actions will help the community heal, Gray said that it "is a step in that direction."

"We feel that he did what was in his personal and professional interest," pointed out Gray, who added the family would wait for the results of a federal investigation before deciding what do to next.

"Then we'll sit down and analyze if we decide to take a civil action to court or we open up negotiations."

Ferguson officials planned to make a statement on Wilson's resignation Sunday.

'We were not after Wilson's job'

When prosecutors announced that a grand jury declined to indict  Wilson on Monday, it stoked racial tensions that led to looting and violence in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb of 20,000 residents, while also leading to week-long protests nationwide.

Wilson had been with the Ferguson Police Department for less than three years and was on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.

While there had been calls for some time for him to step down, civil rights leaders backed away from demanding his resignation.

"We were not after Wilson's job," said Rev. Al Sharpton in a written statement. "We were after Michael Brown's justice."

Police outnumbered protesters

On Saturday night, more than 100 protesters gathered near police headquarters, where they were outnumbered by officers, following the news. At least one person was arrested after a brief standoff with officers, while others wearing white masks sat in a nearby street blocking traffic. Another protester burned an American flag. By midnight, only about two dozen protesters remained.

A protester shouts at police as he blocks traffic before being arrested outside the Ferguson Police Station in Ferguson, Mo. Response to the resignation of police officer Darren Wilson was mostly muted. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

But many seemed unfazed by the resignation. Several merely shrugged their shoulders when asked what they thought, while Rick Campbell flatly said he didn't care about the resignation, noting: "I've been protesting out here since August."

Brown, who was black, was unarmed when Wilson fatally shot him in the middle of a Ferguson street, where his body was left for several hours as police investigated and angry onlookers gathered.

Some witnesses have said Brown had his hands up when Wilson shot him. Wilson told the grand jury that he feared for his life when Brown hit him and reached for his gun.

The U.S. Justice Department also is conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting and a separate investigation of police department practices.

'It could've been him'

Away from the protests Saturday night, resident Victoria Rutherford said she believed Wilson should have not only resigned, but been convicted of a crime.

A group of about 100 people are participating in a 120-mile march from Ferguson to the governor's mansion in Jefferson City. The march, organized by the NAACP, began Saturday. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

"I'm upset. I have a 16-year-old son. It could've been him. I feel that he was absolutely in the wrong," she said.

Another resident, Reed Voorhees, said he hoped Wilson could find similar work "someplace where he would enjoy life, and move on with his life."

In the days after the shooting, tense and sometimes violent protests popped up in and around Ferguson, a predominantly black community patrolled by a mostly white police force. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to help.

Following Monday night's announcement that the grand jury would not indict Wilson, at least a dozen commercial buildings were destroyed in Ferguson and neighbouring Dellwood, mostly along West Florissant Avenue, not far from where Brown was killed. By Tuesday, Nixon had sent more than 2,200 National Guard members to the Ferguson area to support local law enforcement.

Though protests calmed significantly, more than 100 people have been arrested since Monday, including 16 at a protest Friday night outside the Ferguson police station. Portland, Oregon police said 10 people were arrested Saturday night "after a large group of protesters laid down in the street and refused lawful orders to clear the roadway." The nine adults and one juvenile arrested will face charges that include disorderly conduct.

With files from CBC News

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