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APNewsBreak: Missouri leaders pressured Ferguson chief

January 10, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Interviews with several elected officials and newly released records show some of Missouri’s top leaders tried to pressure Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson to resign after the fatal police shooting of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III told The Associated Press that top state officials had several meetings where they applied pressure on the city to force Jackson to resign.

Also, records released Friday include a Nov. 10 email from St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar to an assistant that describes an apparent meeting of state and local officials. It references the potential timing of Jackson’s “separation” and identifies a potential successor.

Brown was shot by officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, and the shooting of a black suspect by a white officer led to significant unrest in St. Louis County.

Jackson’s leadership drew wide criticism from the outset, both for the aggressive police response to protesters and for his agency’s erratic and infrequent releases of key information. He refused to publicly identify Wilson as the shooter for nearly a week after Brown’s death, then simultaneously released the name with store security video that police said showed Brown stealing a box of cigars and shoving a clerk a short time before his death.

The unrest in St. Louis County escalated Nov. 24 after the announcement that a grand jury declined to indict Wilson, who later resigned.

Knowles on Friday refused to name any of the officials who urged Jackson’s removal.

A message left with Jackson was not returned.