Ferguson police chief expected to step down, Wilson indictment not anticipated

Something is up in Ferguson, Missouri and depending upon who you ask, the police chief is in hot water.

The police chief in Ferguson, Missouri, is expected to step down as part of the effort by city officials to reform the police department, according to government officials familiar with the ongoing discussions between local, state and federal officials…

Under the proposed plan, after Jackson leaves, city leadership would ask the St. Louis County police chief to take over management of Ferguson’s police force.

The announcement could come as soon as next week.

The “depending who you ask” part comes into play when you talk to the principals involved.

Jackson said Tuesday he is not being pushed out.

“Nobody in my chain of command has asked me to resign, nor have I been terminated,” he said on the phone to CNN.

And Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said there is no plan in place for the police chief to step down.

Assuming Jackson and Knowles are telling the truth – or what they currently believe to be the truth – there are a couple of possible explanations. This could be a plan which was hatched at a higher level – perhaps the state’s AG or even all the way up to Holder’s office – but was leaked to CNN before it came to fruition. That would be odd, though, because you would need some buy in from the mayor to pull it off. Either the mayor is involved but doesn’t want to say anything yet, or somebody thought they were going to have enough leverage to pressure him into canning Jackson. The other possibility is that Jackson and Knowles knew about the plan but were not going along with it and leaked the story themselves just to put pressure on the state.

But why try to push Jackson out after all this time has passed and so much water has passed under the bridge? If you were going to do it, wouldn’t you give him the boot in the first days or weeks after the shooting just to staunch the bleeding? Michael Smerconish thinks he can read the tea leaves.

I believe Smerconish is on to something here. The news that has been leaking out in dribs and drabs – probably intentionally – is leaning more and more toward the likely conclusion that the evidence being presented to the grand jury simply won’t justify an indictment. The last autopsy information – including a point blank gunshot on Brown’s hand, indicating that a struggle for the gun did indeed take place inside the car – looks to be shooting major holes in the story based largely on the initial testimony of Dorian Johnson. (Johnson, as you will recall, was Brown’s accomplice in the strong arm robbery of the convenience store and had a prior conviction of lying to the police.)

If the state knows – or strongly suspects – that the jury will conclude its business without indicting Darrel Wilson, they are probably looking to avoid another round of riots, possibly larger than the previous ones. There are plenty of players in the community who want Wilson’s head on a platter, having already seen him tried and convicted in the media, and such news would set a spark to a powder keg. Giving some of the police the boot might be seen as a way to make people think that a new broom is sweeping clean and changes are taking place, thereby possibly dampening some of the anger if Wilson is exonerated.

Frankly, that seems like a faint hope at best. If they don’t get a trial – and conviction – of Darren Wilson, I will be shocked if the town doesn’t essentially blow up again.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on November 30, 2022