Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned Wednesday, effective March 19, a source confirmed to msnbc’s Trymaine Lee.
The resignation of the embattled police chief is the latest in a series of Ferguson officials who have stepped down in the wake of a scathing Department of Justice report condemning the city for repeated constitutional and civil rights violations against black residents by its police department and courts.
The 103-page DOJ report, the culmination of a months-long investigation following the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, found the city police department fostered a culture of racial hostility that included unreasonable searches and seizures and the excessive use of force.
“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing I am stepping down from my position as chief of police for the city of Ferguson Missouri,” Jackson said in a statement Wednesday. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this great city and to serve with all of you. I will continue to assist the city in anyway I can in my capacity as private citizen.”
The City of Ferguson and Jackson agreed to a mutual separation, according to a press release from the city. The agreement includes a severance payment and health insurance for one year. Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will become acting police chief as the city begins a nationwide search for a new leader for the beleaguered department.
Jackson’s resignation comes less than one day after the Ferguson City Council accepted the resignation of City Manager John Shaw, whose duties included supervising the city’s finances. Shaw was blasted in the DOJ’s report for overseeing a judicial system that regularly and aggressively fined black residents to boost municipal revenue.
City officials planned to hold a press conference at 5:30 p.m. CT to address the personnel changes.
Jackson, who faced repeated criticism for his handling of the protests that wracked Ferguson in the aftermath of Brown’s death, had weathered rumors of his resignation before. The police chief previously denied any knowledge of a behind-the-scenes effort to negotiate his ouster, amid reports last October of a possible backdoor deal between local, state and federal officials that would include his resignation as part of a plan to overhaul the department. But the push for change appeared to gain momentum after the revelations made by the DOJ.
“I knew something was up when there was a secret meeting, a closed session on Monday,” Missouri Democratic State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal told msnbc’s Thomas Roberts on Wednesday, before news of Jackson’s resignation was confirmed. “Usually when a closed session is held, it means that some sort of personnel items are going to be shared on the agenda. So we didn’t know frankly what was going to happen today.”
“Many of us have been pushing him out, trying to do so, for months now,” Chappelle-Nadal added. “He has said for the last six months or so that there has not been a racial issue that has existed in Ferguson, and all along we knew that there were some problems that happened in Ferguson with people who had experienced institutional racism.”
Although the DOJ concluded in a parallel investigation that there was not enough evidence to charge the officer who shot Brown for civil rights violations, the circumstances surrounding the teen’s death remain at the center of a larger conversation about racial bias and policing reform that has grown into a national movement to improve relations between law enforcement and minority communities.