Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson is reportedly in the final stages of a decision to resign from the St. Louis suburb’s force, even as America anxiously awaits the decision of a Missouri grand jury on whether to charge Mr. Wilson in the August killing of black teen Michael Brown.
Wilson has told his colleagues that he would resign from the Ferguson Police Department, sources told CNN, in order to take pressure off his fellow officers and the embattled police force, which endured nationwide criticism after its heavily armed military response to the violent protests following the shooting in August.
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson also told The Washington Post on Thursday that Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force with a clean disciplinary record, most likely would not return to the department even if the grand jury decides not to indict.
“I don’t see it happening,” Chief Jackson told the Post in a brief interview, calling it a “personnel matter.” Wilson remains in seclusion and is on paid leave from the Ferguson department.
Though Wilson has been negotiating his resignation with the department, he has told associates he’s concerned that leaving before the grand jury decision might appear as an admission of guilt, CNN reported. Even so, sources say, he could announce his decision to resign as early as Friday.
The grand jury could also hold its final hearing on Friday as it continues to gather evidence in the case. It must decide whether to charge Wilson with murder or manslaughter, or to clear him if they find he was acting in self-defense.
Wilson’s fatal shooting of Mr. Brown has roiled black communities across the United States and continues to divide the country on racial lines, according to recent polls. Protesters and some witnesses say Brown had his hands raised in surrender when he was shot. However, Ferguson police maintain that the teen attacked the police officer and rushed toward him during the altercation.
Michael Brown Sr., the slain teen’s father, pleaded for peace Thursday in a video statement, telling the country he doesn’t “want my son’s death to be in vain.”
“My family and I are hurting. Our whole region is hurting,” Mr. Brown said. “I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation, but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.”
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard Monday as authorities geared up for the grand jury’s decision. After Wilson shot and killed Brown, protesters, some engaging in violence and looting, clashed with heavily armed police.
If the grand jury reaches a decision on Friday, however, it will give authorities at least 48 hours before issuing a public statement to prepare for the aftermath of the decision, CNN reports.