FERGUSON, Missouri — Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson on Saturday clarified remarks he gave to a local news station, which quoted Jackson as saying that Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, could rejoin the police force if he is not indicted by a grand jury hearing evidence in the case.
“I am not saying that I want Officer Wilson to return or that I don’t want him to return,” Jackson told msnbc. “Legally speaking, if he is not indicted he can return to his job. If he is indicted on felony charges, which these would be, he will be fired.”
“But even if he is not indicted he will be subject to an internal investigation,” Jackson added. The results of that investigation, according to Jackson, may or may not lead to Wilson’s termination.
Jackson said he was misquoted in a report published late Friday by NBC affiliate KSDK. The report paraphrased Jackson as saying that Wilson could immediately return to active duty.
In addition to the grand jury’s findings, and a possible internal investigation by Ferguson police, the Department of Justice currently has an open civil rights investigation into Brown’s death and a much broader probe into the entire Ferguson Police Department focusing on allegations of racially biased policing.
The grand jury reviewing evidence in the case is expected to make a decision as early as this weekend on whether to charge Wilson with a crime in Brown’s death. The St. Louis County prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, said his office will give a 24-hour notice if a decision is expected to be announced during a weekend, and a three-hour notice if the decision is handed down on a week day.
Jackson said that he has only talked with Wilson once since the Aug. 9 shooting and that it remained unclear, even if Wilson is not indicted by the grand jury, whether Wilson would want to rejoin the force in Ferguson.
Late Friday night, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published newly obtained calls to police dispatch in the minutes leading up to the shooting and video from the Ferguson police headquarters showing Wilson entering and exiting the department building in the hours after the incident.
The Post-Dispatch’s report included a call from police dispatch regarding a robbery at a nearby convenience store. Wilson had been on another call, and minutes later Wilson could be heard asking if his fellow officers needed help responding to the robbery report. Wilson was told that the suspects had left the convenience store. But from the calls, Wilson was given the description of a black male in a white T-shirt and red baseball cap. Shortly thereafter Wilson was on Canfield.
“Put me on Canfield with two,” Wilson could be heard saying. “Send me another car.”
Within just a couple minutes of that call, according to a timeline gleaned from the recordings released by the Post-Dispatch, Brown was dead.
Attorneys for the Brown family released a statement Saturday saying they thought the materials obtained by the Post-Dispatch demonstrated that police exaggerated the extent of Wilson’s injuries after the altercation with the teenager.
“Furthermore, the audio clearly demonstrates that the initial interaction with the officer and Brown had nothing to do with the incident at the convenience store,” Attorneys Benjamin Crump, Anthony Gray and Daryl Parks continued in the statement. “The remaining portions of the audiotape did not establish any connection with the convenience store incident. We will wait for the Grand Jury’s decision and continue to develop a plan to change the system that now works entirely in favor of law enforcement and against citizens.”
Police and witnesses have said Brown and Wilson engaged in a physical struggle through the window of the officer’s SUV shortly before the teen’s death. Law enforcement officials say Brown attempted to take Wilson’s gun when the police officer fired the first shot. A half-dozen eye-witnesses have said publicly that they saw Brown flee from the vehicle as Wilson open fire with the fatal shots landing as the teen stopped, turned to the officer and raised his arms in surrender. But a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told NBC News’ Pete Williams that Wilson said he feared for his safety when the teen turned and charged back toward him after running from the vehicle.
Jackson said Saturday that he hadn’t seen or heard the police calls or the video recorded at his department, adding that the material was “inadvertently released.” The records, however, were released in response to a formal request by the newspaper under Missouri’s open records law.