DARREN WILSON, the police officer who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown in a confrontation in August, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department nearly four months after the confrontation that fueled protests in the St. Louis suburb and across the nation.
Wilson, 28, had been on administrative leave since the shooting on Aug. 9. His resignation was announced Saturday by one of his attorneys, Neil Bruntrager. The resignation was effective immediately, Bruntrager said.
“I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow,” Wilson said in a resignation letter released late Saturday.
“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. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal,” the letter read.
A grand jury spent more than three months reviewing evidence in the case before declining in November to issue charges against Wilson. He told jurors that he feared for his life when Brown hit him and reached for his gun.
The U.S. Justice Department is still conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting and a separate probe of police department practices.
After the shooting, Wilson spent months in hiding and made no public statements. He broke his silence after the grand jury decision, telling ABC News that he could not have done anything differently in the encounter with Brown.
Wilson said he has a clean conscience because “I know I did my job right.” Brown’s shooting was the first time he fired his gun on the job, he said.
Asked whether the encounter would have unfolded the same way if Brown had been white, Wilson said yes.
The announcement of resignation didn’t appease protesters outside the Ferguson police department on Saturday night.
“I’ve been protesting out here since August,” Rick Campbell told the Associate Press, adding that he didn’t care that Wilson had resigned.
Several other protesters who were asked to comment expressed disinterest at the development.
“We were not after Wilson’s job,” civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement. “We were after Michael Brown’s justice.”
Wilson had no previous complaints against him and a good career record, according to Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who called Wilson “an excellent police officer.”
A few months before the shooting, Wilson had received a commendation for detaining a suspect in a drug case. (Fox News, The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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