Ferguson chief resigns in wake of scathing federal report
Updated: 2015-03-12 09:39
FERGUSON/KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, resigned on Wednesday, following a scathing US Justice Department report that found widespread racially biased abuses in the city's police department and municipal court.
The resignation of Chief Thomas Jackson was the latest in a string of departures since the Justice Department said on March 4 that a months-long probe had uncovered a range of unlawful and unconstitutional practices in the St. Louis suburb.
Protesters had called for Jackson's removal since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer on Aug 9. The killing triggered nationwide protests and drew scrutiny to police use of deadly force, especially against black men.
Neither a grand jury nor the federal probe led to charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
A separate Justice Department investigation found that Ferguson police routinely targeted African-Americans for arrests and ticketing.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the city was committed to keeping its police department, even though the Justice Department report said it may need to be dismantled.
"We continue to go through the report and talk about where the breakdown was," Knowles told a news conference where he promised changes, but rejected calls for his own resignation.
Two small groups protested outside City Hall as the mayor spoke, some supporting Jackson, others against him.
"Chief Jackson stepping down is long overdue," said Patricia Bynes, a local Democratic leader. "It should not have gotten to this point. All the things that the Justice Department found that happened under his watch, you really have to question what made him think he could still be chief of police."
Earlier this week, Ferguson City Manager John Shaw and Municipal Judge Ronald Brockmeyer stepped down. Three other employees of the police department and municipal court left their jobs last week.
The Justice Department said in a statement on Wednesday night that the results of its probe into Ferguson police practices "remain a top concern and priority."
It said its Civil Rights Division would "continue to work with Ferguson Police and city leadership, regardless of whomever is in those positions, to reach a court enforceable agreement that will address their unconstitutional practices in a comprehensive manner."