Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown, has resigned from the police force effective immediately, an attorney for the officer confirmed to NBC News.
Wilson has been on administrative leave from the Ferguson Police Department since the shooting on Aug. 9. The killing led to massive demonstrations and confrontations with police in the St. Louis suburb and other cities. A grand jury hearing evidence in the case decided on Monday not to indict Wilson with a crime. That decision sparked a fresh round of protests in Ferguson, which saw dozens of arrests and a number of businesses burned and looted.
Wilson maintains he was acting in self-defense when he shot Brown multiple times outside the housing complex where the 18-year-old lived. The officer testified to grand jurors that he feared for his life and did what he had to do to defend himself. “He threw the first [punch], and it hit me in the left side of my face,” Wilson told ABC News in an interview this week. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to withstand another hit like that.”
“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. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal,” Wilson wrote in his resignation letter, which was obtained by the newspaper.
Wilson's resignation was expected. His lawyers told NBC station KSDK earlier this week that the officer was likely to resign from the force. Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson had also indicated earlier that Wilson might not want to rejoin the police department if he was not indicted for the Brown shooting.
It’s unclear what Wilson will do now. Wilson was recently married, and he and his wife are expecting a baby. While a grand jury did not bring charges against Wilson, the U.S. Justice Department is conducting its own separate probe of the shooting and the entire Ferguson Police Department.