Ferguson Officer Quit Because Of ‘Threats’

The white officer who shot dead black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, quit because of threats against the police department, his lawyer has said.

Darren Wilson’s resignation with immediate effect was announced on Saturday, four months after the confrontation that fuelled violent protests in the St Louis suburb and across the US.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told a news conference on Sunday: “The threats (from protesters) have been egregious and counselling is available to the officers.”

He was joined by Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, who said Mr Wilson, 28, received no severance payment package.

The city leader also unveiled proposals to boost the number of black members on the community’s police force, including a stipend for officers who live locally.

Mr Wilson’s attorney, Neil Bruntrager, told the Associated Press news agency his client stepped aside after the department told him of the unspecified threats.

“The information we had was that there would be actions targeting the Ferguson (police) department or buildings in Ferguson related to the police department,” Mr Bruntrager said.

A grand jury declined last Monday to bring charges against Mr Wilson, who had been on administrative leave since the shooting on 9 August.

Mr Wilson, who had been with the department for less than three years, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch: “I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me.”

According to the newspaper, his resignation letter to the Ferguson force read: “It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal.”

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Michael Brown’s family, said Mr Wilson’s resignation was not a surprise.

“It was always believed that the police officer would do what was in his best interest, both personally and professionally,” Mr Crump 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.”

The US Justice Department is still conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting and a separate probe of police department practices.

Mr Wilson began his career in nearby Jennings before moving to the Ferguson job a few years ago.

He had no previous complaints against him and a good career record, according to Chief Jackson, who described Mr Wilson as “an excellent police officer”.

A few months before the shooting, Mr Wilson had received a commendation for detaining a suspect in a drugs case.

An American flag was burned during the most recent protests outside police headquarters in Ferguson on Saturday night, when two people were arrested.

Ten people were meanwhile arrested at a Ferguson-inspired demonstration in Portland, Oregon, after a rally at which civil rights leader Rev Jesse Jackson spoke.

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