Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson on Saturday said he was speaking in legal terms when he said Officer Darren Wilson would return to the police force if a grand jury indictment isn’t returned in the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.
On Friday, Jackson told KSDK-TV if the grand jury does not indict Wilson, he would immediately return to active duty. However, if the grand jury does return an indictment, Jackson said Wilson would most likely be fired.
A day later, Jackson clarified his statements to MSNBC, saying Missouri law would allow Wilson to return to the force if he is cleared of any charges. The police department would also conduct an internal review of Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown shooting, to see if Wilson violated any Ferguson police department policies.
Jackson says he has not had any contact with Wilson, and it is unclear if he would want to return to the police force.
Wilson has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting of Michael Brown.
Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said the city will not speculate about Officer Wilson’s status on the force before the grand jury decision is released. By phone Saturday, he said speculation would only upset people, and the city has, so far, had no conversations with Wilson about his future at the department.
An attorney for the Michael Brown family, Anthony D. Gray, offered a statement Saturday:
“I cannot fathom the thought, (Michael Brown’s) family cannot fathom the thought of Officer Darren Wilson returning to the Ferguson police force.”
David Klinger, a University of Missouri-St. Louis professor of criminology, said it is common for police departments to conduct an internal review of an officer-involved shooting. Klinger said he is unaware of any Missouri law that would prevent a police officer from going back to work after an officer-involved shooting is ruled legally appropriate.
Klinger said it is uncommon, but not unheard of, for an officer to be discharged after a police-shooting is ruled lawful.
SOURCE: USA Today / KSDK-TV St. Louis – Jennifer Meckles and Jimmy Bernhard