The white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department. Darren Wilson submitted a resignation letter and turned in his badge five days after a grand jury did not indict him for the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Wilson, who had worked at the department for six years, said that he had decided to resign after he was told that the police department had received threats of violence if he stayed in the force. “I’m resigning of my own free will,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me.” He added that resigning was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Wilson writes in his resignation letter that he hopes the move will “allow the community to heal.” Here’s the full text of the letter (via the Wall Street Journal):
I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. 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. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community is of paramount importance to me. 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.
Wilson has not received a severance package although he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he may begin negotiations with the department to try to get one.
Activists and protesters uniformly said the resignation doesn’t really change anything. “We want an indictment and we’re still going to stand for that,” a 29-year-old told the New York Times. A Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson tells the Post-Dispatch that the resignation could have calmed tensions if it had taken place shortly after the shooting, not now. “It doesn’t even have the same impact that it would have months ago,” she said. “It would have relieved a lot of anger and the pressure in the streets. It’s been almost infuriating to get to this point and nothing has changed. There was no accountability and sense of responsibility for what has happened.”