Senior state officials in Missouri attempted to pressure Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson to resign, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, The Associated Press (AP) reported, citing interviews with several elected officials and records released on Friday.
Ferguson mayor James Knowles III told AP that top state officials had held several meetings, where they applied pressure on the city to force Jackson's resignation. Jackson's force attracted widespread criticism, both for its handling of the aftermath of the unarmed black teen's killing, and also for his agency's inconsistent and sometimes delayed releases of key information pertaining to the incident.
Brown was shot by Wilson Aug. 9, an incident that triggered days of unrest in the predominantly black town. Tensions escalated across the nation after a Ferguson grand jury decided in November not to indict the white officer over the fatal shooting.
"I was at a lot of meetings where that was brought up," Knowles said. "There were different people advocating for the chief to be fired or quit or whatever. I want to make it clear: We never considered that."
Knowles on Friday reportedly refused to mention the names of any officials who urged Jackson's removal or resignation.
Missouri House Speaker John Diehl and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill also reportedly confirmed that they both attended a meeting to discuss whether Jackson should be forced out.
McCaskill reportedly said in a written statement that she attended such a meeting, which involved community leaders, elected officials and law enforcement officials.
"A variety of issues were discussed to help ease tension in the St. Louis region, and address systemic issues highlighted in Ferguson -- issues including personnel changes at the Ferguson police department," the statement said, according to AP.
Diehl, a Republican from the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country, reportedly said that he attended two meetings that were aimed at efforts to seek the resignation of both Jackson and Wilson, adding that the meetings took place around the time of the Nov. 4 elections.
He reportedly said that he disagreed with the attempts to secure the men's resignations, because a grand jury was still hearing evidence in the case and a decision was pending.
"A substantial part of the conversation centered around trying to get Darren Wilson to resign prior to the decision of the grand jury and to get Chief Jackson to resign, and I didn't have any interest in participating in that," Diehl reportedly said.
An email with the subject line, "Ferguson Chief Jackson Meeting," dating Nov. 10 was sent by St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar to an assistant, indicated Jackson’s “separation” and also identified a St. Louis County police lieutenant colonel named Doyle as a potential successor.
Doyle "will become the ranking officer of the FPD," the email, which was a part of records provided to AP under an open records request, read. However, Doyle's first name was not mentioned in the email, but AP reported that Troy Doyle is a lieutenant colonel for the county police.