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Darren Wilson Could Keep His Job in Ferguson If Grand Jury Doesn't Indict Him

Ferguson's police chief says the 28-year-old officer could return to active duty if he's cleared of wrongdoing in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

by Liz Fields
Nov 15 2014, 6:30pm

Photo via Associated Press

Suspended police officer Darren Wilson could return to active duty if he is not indicted in the shooting death of unarmed teen Mike Brown, but there is no guarantee he will or wants to return to the Ferguson Police Department, his boss said.

Friday night, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson told Yahoo News that Wilson would "immediately" return to the force on a "not yet determined assignment," if he is not indicted by a grand jury for killing the 18-year-old Brown on August 9.

But Jackson clarified those comments Saturday, saying that, although the 28-year-old officer could legally come back to work if the grand jury finds he did not commit a crime, there is no guarantee that he will return to active duty. That outcome is still subject to internal and other investigations, Jackson said.

"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 said.

The Department of Justice has also opened civil rights investigations into both Brown's shooting and the Ferguson Police Department.

Jackson said he has not spoken to Wilson, who is currently on paid administrative leave, since the day of the shooting, and did not know if the officer even wished to return to policing duty in Ferguson.

The Brown family spoke through one of their lawyers, Anthony D. Gray, in a statement Saturday.

"I cannot fathom the thought, [Michael Brown's] family cannot fathom the thought of Officer Darren Wilson returning to the Ferguson police force," the statement said.

Death of St. Louis teen shot at 17 times by off-duty cop sparks new protests. Read more here.

Darren Wilson, his union lawyer Greg Kloeppel, and two police officers leave the Ferguson police station for the hospital at 2:08pm on August 9, the day Wilson shot Michael Brown Jr.

Meanwhile, new police station surveillance footage released over the weekend shows the most recent video of Wilson, who has stayed out of the public eye since the incident and ensuing mass protests across the city and nation.

The video shows Wilson exiting and returning to the police station in the hours following the shooting, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which obtained the footage.

The Post-Dispatch also released details of police radio calls made on the day of the shooting. Calls between Wilson and dispatchers around noon revealed the officer offered to help locate the suspect of a Ferguson market robbery earlier that morning. Footage previously released by Ferguson police showed Brown and a friend stealing cigars from the store. 

Watch VICE News' dispatches from Ferguson here.

Darren Wilson, his union lawyer Greg Kloeppel, and two police officers return to the Ferguson police station from the hospital at 4:30pm on August 9, the day Wilson shot Michael Brown Jr.

At approximately 12:02pm, Wilson called for backup after spotting two men walking down the street, Brown and his friend, 22-year-old Dorian Johnson. Sources told the local paper that Wilson claims he realized Brown matched the description of the robbery suspect. Wilson and Brown then got into an altercation in the officer's vehicle, with Wilson firing twice at close range and hitting Brown once. Police said previously that Wilson did not know Brown was a robbery suspect before the shooting occurred.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Wilson told authorities he called "shots fired, send all cars," on his radio, but the newspaper was unable to locate a record of this call, possibly because Wilson's radio had been "jarred" during the struggle with Brown.

Conflicting reports from eyewitnesses provide a muddled timeline of the series of events leading to Brown's death after the initial confrontation. Some witnesses have said Wilson fired while Brown was lowering himself to the ground with his hands in the air, while others said Brown "walked, staggered, or stumbled" toward the officer before being shot, according to the Post-Dispatch.

The grand jury, which has been hearing testimony for three months, is expected to decide Wilson's fate before the end of November.

Ferguson police aren't telling you what happened to Mike Brown. Read more here.

This story was updated November 16 at 10:37am ET to include clarifying remarks from Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields