Ferguson Mayor James Knowles announced that Darren Wilson, the former police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in the town on August 9 will not get severance pay, a day before the White House will host activists and civil rights leaders to discuss the fallout of racial unrest in the area.
A White House official confirmed to NBC News that President Obama will be meeting with a select group of individuals on Monday to further discuss his administration’s actions to improve police relationships with communities of color.
Meanwhile, Wilson, whose killing of Brown this summer sparked months of racially tinged protests, resigned from the force on Saturday, effective immediately. The news of the lack of payment was first reported by the Associated Press, ahead of a press conference by the mayor Sunday afternoon.
“There is no severance agreement with Officer Wilson and the city of Ferguson and the city of Ferguson will not be making a severance payment to Officer Wilson,” Knowles declared. “Now is the time for the city of Ferguson to begin it’s healing process.”
At the press conference, the mayor also said that the city will create a citizen review board to provide oversight of the police force. It will include residents, representatives from the business community, and law enforcement officials who will make suggestions for reforms on a rolling basis.
The mayor announced several other smaller measures as well, including plans to recruit more African-American police officers and to search for potential officers in local schools. It will also pay officers more if they actually live in Ferguson. Currently, a majority of Ferguson’s residents are white, while only a small handful of police officers are black.
“This groundbreaking initiative will be one of the first of its kind in this region,” Knowles said of the review board.
Wilson was acquitted by a grand jury early last week, but a federal investigation into the Michael Brown case is ongoing. The former police officer maintains he did nothing wrong, and was only defending himself when he shot Brown on August 9.
“It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me,” he wrote in his resignation letter. Wilson and local law enforcement officials feared people might target him or his fellow officers if he remained on the force.
He has been on administrative leave since the shooting. It’s unclear where he will do next.
Mayor Knowles told reporters, “I think it’s best that at this time we continue to move on as a community.”