On August 9, unarmed Ferguson, MO teen Michael Brown was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department, an incident that was seen as the tipping point that pushed tensions between the local community and police over the edge. Now, the grand jury assigned to the case is closing in on making a decision about whether to indict Wilson for the shooting and could do so at any moment.
Considering the intensity of the spontaneous protests that broke out following Brown’s death, city and state officials fear that, if the grand jury declines to charge Officer Wilson, civil unrest could follow. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has activated a 30-day state of emergency and readied the National Guard in advance of the grand jury’s announcement. If the decision were to come today, prosecutors would likely delay publicizing the announcement for 48 hours in order to give law enforcement officials time to make preparations. During that time, prosecutors also plan to remain in contact with attorneys representing Michael Brown’s family.
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting on sources close to the case that say that city officials and Officer Darren Wilson are negotiating his potential resignation, a move that could be aimed at dimming tensions in the event that Wilson does not face charges. Wilson reportedly told associates that he might be willing to resign to calm hostilities between the local community and police, but fears that doing so prior to a grand jury announcement could give the impression that he is admitting fault in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Officer Wilson continues to maintain his innocence.
Eff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association told FOX 2 St. Louis that he “doesn’t think” the grand jury will charge Officer Wilson. Chief Tom Jackson of the Ferguson Police Department, who has said that Wilson could come back to work if the grand jury does not hand down an indictment, claimed that he was unaware of any talks regarding Wilson’s potential resignation. Mayor James Knowles said of the rumored negotiations, “Nothing has been decided.”
According to CNN‘s sources, the resignation negotiations could break down at any time, especially if the grand jury were to bring charges against Wilson.
The City of Ferguson has announced that its mayor and police chief will not be conducting any further interviews about the case until the grand jury makes its decision. Officer Wilson is currently on paid administrative leave and, if he were to continue working with the Ferguson Police Department, would have to face two rounds of psychological evaluation.
On Thursday, Michael Brown’s father called for supporters to remain calm in the event that the grand jury does not indict Wilson. He said, “My family and I are hurting. Our whole region is hurting. I thank you for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation, but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer… No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change — positive change — change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told CNN, “We’ve had three months to prepare [for the grand jury’s announcement]. … Acts of violence will not be tolerated. Our intelligence is good. Our tactics are good. We can protect lawful people and at the same time arrest criminals.”