Darren Wilson is in final negotiations with officials in Ferguson, Missouri, to resign from the city's police force, CNN reported Thursday, citing sources. The report comes a day before the grand jury is expected to meet for a discussion and possibly announce its decision on whether the police officer will be indicted in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown.
Wilson reportedly told authorities that he would like to resign to help reduce political pressure on the police force and protect his colleagues. However, Wilson reportedly also feared that resigning from the job would imply that he was guilty of shooting the unarmed black teen, whose death triggered weeks of protests in the St. Louis suburb. He voiced his concerns while the grand jury was hearing evidence in the shooting incident, CNN reported, adding that sources had said Wilson could announce his plans to resign on Friday.
However, the final talks about Wilson’s resignation could still fail if the grand jury returns charges against Wilson -- a verdict that could change the officer’s mind -- people close to the negotiations said, according to CNN. Wilson has been on paid leave since Brown's shooting, which triggered racially charged protests in and around the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.
The grand jury has been hearing testimonies from several witnesses over the last three months, and St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch has promised that all evidence and testimony presented to the jury will be made public.
Earlier on Thursday, The Associated Press (AP) reported that Wilson and his lawyers did not believe that the officer would be indicted in the shooting death of the 18-year-old. Later, Wilson’s attorney and a St. Louis police union official both refuted the claims made in the AP report, stating that they never discussed the grand jury’s decision.
"If I was so confident, why would I be making those (bail) arrangements?” Neil Bruntrager, one of Wilson’s lawyers, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “My client never said that and would never say that because … our only expectation that we would have is that (the grand jurors) be thorough. Period. End of story.”
The AP story quoted Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, as saying that he had met with Wilson, and the Ferguson officer did not expect to be facing criminal charges.
The AP “mistook what I said. … At no time did I say they don’t expect an indictment or that they are confident in what the outcome of the grand jury would be; it’s just that they seemed confident in the system,” Roorda later told the Post-Dispatch.
Authorities in Ferguson are concerned that the grand jury’s decision may trigger violent protests if Wilson is not indicted. Gov. Jay Nixon signed an executive order Monday activating the National Guard and declaring a state of emergency, ahead of the jury’s decision, to prepare for the possibility of “expanded unrest” in the St. Louis suburb. However, the move was criticized by several activists, who believe that it could only heighten tensions between protesters and police.
“The National Guard is called in when policing has failed. Military presence in my city will mark a historic failure on the part of [government],” tweeted Antonio French, a St. Louis alderman who has been a fixture at the protests. “This started on August 9th with government overreaction to black youth and it continues. This is not a war. There is not military solution.”