Two police officers shot in Ferguson as police chief steps down - report

Two police officers shot in Ferguson as police chief steps down - report
Thomas Jackson

Two police officers have been shot outside the Ferguson Police Department, according to reports.

The shots were allegedly fired early today as police and protesters gathered outside the station after the resignation of police chief Thomas Jackson.

Ferguson Lieutenant Colonel Al Eickhoff told the St Louis Post-Despatch that he did not think either officer was from his department.

Lt Col Eickhoff added he did not know the extent of the officers’ injuries.

Thomas Jackson was the sixth employee to resign or be fired after a US Justice Department report cleared white former officer Darren Wilson of civil rights charges in the shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, but found a profit-driven court system and widespread racial bias in the city police department.

Mr Jackson had previously resisted calls by protesters and some of Missouri’s top elected leaders to step down over his handling of the August shooting of Michael Brown and the weeks of sometimes-violent protests that followed.

He was widely criticised from the outset, both for an aggressive police response to protesters and for his agency’s erratic and infrequent releases of key information. He took nearly a week to publicly identify Officer Darren Wilson as the shooter.

Mr Jackson submitted a four-sentence letter in which he said he was announcing his resignation with profound sadness.

Calling Mr Jackson an “honourable man”, mayor James Knowles III announced the city had reached a mutual separation agreement that will pay Mr Jackson one year of his nearly $96,000 annual salary and health coverage.

During a 12-minute news conference, Mr Knowles said Mr Jackson resigned after “a lot of soul-searching” about how the community could heal from the racial unrest stemming from the fatal shooting last summer.

Mr Jackson oversaw the Ferguson force for nearly five years before the shooting that stirred months of unrest across the St Louis region and drew global attention to the predominantly black city of 21,000.

Mr Brown’s death prompted a heated national debate on how African-Americans and other minorities are treated by police.

“This city needs to move forward without any distractions,” Mr Jackson said.

A US law enforcement official said that the Justice Department had not pressured or encouraged Mr Jackson to resign during meetings with him but had also not resisted the idea.

The Justice Department report found that Ferguson’s police and court systems functioned as a money-making enterprise rather than one meant to ensure public safety.

The report found black drivers in Ferguson were more than twice as likely as others to be searched during routine traffic stops and more likely to face excessive force from police, often during unwarranted stops.

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