Darren Wilson resigned without severance pay ‘over credible threats to his collegues’

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson resigned from the force because of threats against his colleagues, his lawyer said on Sunday, as it emerged he will not receive any severance pay.

Mr Wilson, 28, whom a grand jury chose not to indict in the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in the St Louis, Missouri, suburb on August 9, officially quit the force on Saturday.

On Sunday, his lawyer, Neil Bruntrager, revealed he chose to resign after being made aware of threats that his fellow officers would be harmed if he stayed in the force.

It comes as Ferguson Mayor James Knowles has announced that Mr Wilson will not receive further pay nor benefits following his resignation, which he deemed a ‘personal’, not official, matter.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr Knowles added that the city is implementing a new scholarship scheme through which it hopes to recruit a higher number of African-American police officers.

The scheme will aim to ‘make the department more inclusive of the community’, he said, adding that a police explorer program will also be introduced to schools in the area by 2015.

On Monday, a grand jury decided not to indict Mr Wilson for shooting to death Brown, who is black, in a move that has sparked violent demonstrations across more than 170 American cities.

The verdict, announced by St Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, has also galvanized critics of the way police and the U.S. criminal justice system treat African-Americans and other minorities.

Following the announcement, Mr Wilson, who maintains he shot Brown in self-defense, was placed on administrative leave from the police department. He was also put in seclusion.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Bruntrager said Ferguson’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, had recently told Mr Wilson he had information suggesting other officers would be harmed if he stayed on the force.

‘The information we had was that there would be actions targeting the Ferguson (police) department or buildings in Ferguson related to the police department,’ he said.

‘When Darren was told that, he simply said, “That’s enough”, and it was time to resign.’

During the news conference, Mr Knowles acknowledged that a number of ‘egregious’ threats had been made against Ferguson police, but he denied that the city asked the officer to leave the force.

In a letter published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday, Mr Wilson said he had wanted to wait until after the grand jury’s decision before deciding whether to quit.

Nevertheless, his departure was long anticipated because of the potential risks to his own safety and the deep rifts that have surfaced between police and the African-American community.

‘For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign,’ Mr Wilson wrote in his letter of resignation.

‘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.’

He added: ‘It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.’

Some critics are now campaigning for Mr Jackson to resign as well to promote reconciliation in Ferguson, where most residents are black and the police force are mostly white.

‘I think it’s impossible for this community to move forward with him still in that role,’ said St. Louis Alderman Antonio French on ABC’s ‘This Week’.

But when asked during Sunday’s news conference if there were any changes planned in the suburb’s leadership, Mr Knowles said there were not.

Speaking to the Associated Press earlier on Sunday, Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Mr 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.

More at The DailyMail

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