Ferguson, Missouri, police chief Tom Jackson made an announcement to the media Friday that is sure to cause discussion. Jackson stated that officer Darren Wilson will be immediately returned to active duty if he is not indicted by a grand jury. Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since shooting and killing unarmed teen Michael Brown this past August. The chief wrote in an email that Wilson could return to duty with a “not yet determined assignment.” However, if the grand jury does indict Wilson then Jackson announced that Wilson would most likely be terminated if it is a felony.
The grand jury has been listening to testimony for almost three months regarding Brown’s death and there have been multiple leaks from law enforcement indicating that Wilson would not be indicted. The Brown family and attorneys have argued that there is more than enough evidence to charge Wilson and that the case should go to trial. Attorney Benjamin Crump states,“That way everybody would get their due process. The constitutional rights would be extended to the police officer, but also to Michael Brown Jr.”
The Ferguson community has been on edge since the shooting and while waiting on the grand jury decision. Hanging in the balance is also a determination by the FBI as to whether or not the shooting violated any federal civil rights laws. The Ferguson Police Department has not launched an internal affairs investigation over the shooting and has also violated their own reporting standards regarding the incident. The Ferguson Police Department’s written orders state that a use of force report must be submitted after all incidents like the Brown shooting. As of this week neither Wilson nor the department had filed this report. In response, the police chief has stated “Typically an administrative investigation waits until the criminal one is over. In this case, it will be difficult anyway since county police departments and the FBI have all the evidence and witnesses.”
Neither the Brown family onr their attorneys have responded to the police chief’s statement. If Darren Wilson returns to the police force in Ferguson, the community will have to deal with the emotional scars of Brown’s death and the ensuing violence that followed.