Ferguson, Missouri’s police chief and mayor are denying a CNN report that the embattled chief, Tom Jackson, will step down as early as next week as the town awaits a grand jury decision on whether it will charge police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
Ferguson’s mayor, James Knowles, not only strongly denied the report but he told The Daily Caller that CNN — which cited unspecified government officials — told him the Department of Justice was the source of the claim.
CNN reported that those officials, who are familiar with local, state and federal investigations into the shooting, claimed Jackson would be replaced by St. Louis County’s police chief.
But Jackson denied the report to CNN and to other reporters.
“Nobody in my chain of command has asked me to resign, nor have I been terminated,” Jackson told CNN.
“[Chief Jackson] has NOT resigned, retired, been fired,” Knowles told TheDC. “Period. He is our chief.”
Knowles had also denied the report at a city meeting earlier Tuesday.
Jackson’s supposed replacement, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar, also said he was unaware of any plans for him to take on the Ferguson job.
CNN reporting that Stl county Chief Belmar to take over mgmt of Ferguson pd. Chief Belmar just told me its news to him.
— Mike Bush (@mikebushksdk) October 29, 2014
If Jackson is indeed replaced, CNN said the announcement could be announced “as early as next week” and that it would be part of a larger plan to “reduce tensions” in the town ahead of a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision on whether to charge Wilson.
Jackson has been heavily criticized for his handling of the investigation into the shooting, which occurred on Aug. 9. Jackson delayed releasing details of the investigation, and when he announced Wilson’s name nearly a week after the shooting, he also released details of a strong-arm robbery that Brown had taken part in shortly before the shooting. Critics claimed the timing of the release was suspicious and intended to make Brown look bad.
Jackson – as well as Ferguson and St. Louis County police – also came under fire for using a heavy police presence to control protests that were sparked in the days and weeks following the shooting.