Ferguson shooting: Police officer Darren Wilson quits force after being cleared of wrong doing by grand jury

Darren Wilson has been on administrative leave since the incident

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The Independent US

Darren Wilson, the police officer at the heart of the Ferguson shooting tragedy that has pitched the United States once more into anguished debate about policing and race, is resigning from the town’s police department out of concern for the safety of his fellow officers, one of his lawyers said on Sunday.

The lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, said that Mr Wilson, 28, a six-year veteran of the Ferguson force, had handed in his resignation on Saturday after learning from his boss, Chief Tom Jackson, that threats of violence had been made against other officers and the department as a whole.

“Under the circumstances, nothing else was important other than safety,” Mr Bruntrager said. “The information we had was that there would be actions targeting the Ferguson department or buildings in Ferguson related to the police department.”

It isn’t clear whether Mr Wilson’s exit will help lower tensions and bring an end to protests that once more erupted in Ferguson and spread to cities nationwide in the wake of a Grand Jury’s decision last week not to charge him for the shooting of Michael Brown, who was 18, on 9 August.

 

Some residents of the town said it could have had a far greater impact if Mr Wilson had left the force weeks ago. “We were not after Wilson’s job,” the Reverend Al Sharpton, who on Sunday preached at a church service in Ferguson attended by the Brown family, said in response to the news that the officer was handing in his badge. “We were after Michael Brown’s justice”.

The Ferguson police department is still under investigation by the US Justice Department for possible misconduct in its methods and treatment of black residents of the St Louis suburb. Officer Wilson is white and Michael Brown was black.

It emerged late last week that two men arrested by federal agents just days before the findings of the Grand Jury were announced had been charged with a wide-ranging plot that included plans to assassinate Chief Jackson as well as St Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who oversaw the Grand Jury investigation.

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Police officer Darren Wilson (right) gives his first TV interview since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

 

Benjamin Crump, the Brown family lawyer, said Mr Wilson’s exit was no surprise. “It was always believed that the police officer would do what was in his best interest, both personally and professionally,” he said.

“We didn’t believe that he would be able to be effective for the Ferguson community nor the Ferguson police department because of the tragic circumstances that claimed the life of Michael Brown Jr.”

He added that the family is still pondering possible civil litigation against Mr Wilson for the death of the teen. While a wrongful death lawsuit remained an option, he insisted that criminal charges would have been the correct path.  The parents “really wanted the killer of their child held accountable”, he said.

About 100 protesters assembled outside the Ferguson police department on Saturday night.

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