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Darren Wilson, Officer in Ferguson Shooting, Resigns

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Eric Westervelt sitting in for Arun Rath. Officials in Ferguson, Missouri say they've accepted the resignation of Darren Wilson. He's the white police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last August. This past week, a grand jury chose not to indict Wilson over Brown's death. That news set off days of sometimes violent protests. NPR's Sam Sanders has the latest.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: On Saturday, Neil Bruntrager, Darren Wilson's attorney, released a short, one-paragraph resignation letter to the media. It said Wilson was resigning for the safety of fellow officers and residents of Ferguson. Earlier today, Bruntrager went on Fox News Sunday to elaborate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEIL BRUNTRAGER: We got information yesterday directly from the chief in Ferguson that they had some information that suggested there were going to be acts taken against either members of the department or the department itself related to his continued employment.

SANDERS: A few hours later, James Knowles, the mayor of Ferguson, said he never asked Wilson to step down. But now Wilson is totally off the payroll.

JAMES KNOWLES: He's no longer an employee here of the city of Ferguson, and there was no severance agreement for the extension of any kinds of payments or benefits.

SANDERS: Some say that's not enough.

OSAGYEFO SEKOU: He should have been, at bare minimum, fired.

SANDERS: That's Osagyefo Sekou. He came to Ferguson from Boston to protest, and he says there's more to be fixed in the Ferguson PD than just one officer.

SEKOU: His resignation brings no solace to this community in that this has never been about a bad apple, but it's been about a rotten system.

SANDERS: Sunday, Ferguson mayor James Knowles said he's focused on changing the way things work.

KNOWLES: Our number one goal is to bring together our police department and our community, to bridge the gap between those who feel there is a divide between them and law enforcement.

SANDERS: As part of bridging that gap, the mayor announced a four-point plan - first, a civilian review board to look at complaints against Ferguson police and provide citizen input to the force. Second, a, quote, "police explorer program in local schools." Third, a scholarship program to recruit black candidates to the police force - it would require black officers to work in Ferguson for two years. And, the mayor says, the city will increase a stipend for Ferguson police officers who actually live in Ferguson, from $100 to $300 a month. One local protester, Derrick Robinson, says these announcements are a good step, but there needs to be change in more than just the police department.

DERRICK ROBINSON: I think it is very vital and important that we have a diversified police department, diversified city council, a diversified city hall and a diversified city.

SANDERS: Others say they'll keep protesting. And lawyers for the family of Michael Brown say they'll keep pursuing all legal avenues, including a possible civil wrongful death lawsuit against Darren Wilson. Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.

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