As the Ferguson Fallout Continues, Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns
The furor over Michael Brown’s shooting shows no signs of abating. On Saturday evening, the police officer responsible for the 18-year-old’s death resigned.
Darren Wilson, the 28-year-old Ferguson, Mo., police officer who fatally shot the unarmed teenager in August, stepped down five days after a grand jury decided not to indict him.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles denied that Wilson was asked to leave the department, though he acknowledged that the city’s police force has received threats since the shooting. He said on Sunday that Wilson, who has been on paid leave, wouldn’t collect any further wages or benefits.
He earned $45,302 a year and may negotiate a severance package with the department, he told St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The paper published the full text of Wilson’s resignation letter.
“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,” Wilson wrote. “It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal.”
His attorney, Neil Bruntrager, told The Associated Press that there have been threats targeting Ferguson’s police department and that Wilson and the city acknowledged that his staying on the force would be impossible.
“In terms of what [the resignation] means, it means at this point he doesn’t have a paycheck,” said Bruntrager. “He has no income, so he’ll have to make some decisions pretty quickly.”
In a news conference on Sunday, Knowles announced that the city, where blacks constitute half the population, would establish a scholarship program to enlist more African American officers. The initiative aims to create law enforcement that is “more reflective of the demographics of Ferguson.”
Many communities, from Los Angeles to London, have expressed their support for Ferguson by staging protests. Before their football game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, players on the St. Louis Rams raised their arms in a “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” gesture to salute the nearby suburban town.