Matters are far from resolved in Ferguson, Missouri, more than one month after police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The most recent occurrence, however, was a more positive one. Police chief Thomas Jackson has come forward and issued a formal apology to the Brown family.
In a video posted to the web Thursday (September 25), Chief Jackson spoke directly to the family of the teen. “I want to say this to the Brown family. No one who has not experienced the loss of a child can understand what you’re feeling,” he said. “I am truly sorry for the loss of your son. I’m also sorry that it took so long to remove Michael from the street. The time that it took involved very important work on the part of investigators who were trying to collect evidence and gain a true picture of what happened that day. But it was just too long, and I’m truly sorry for that.”
Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed on August 9, while taking a walk to visit his grandmother. It's still unclear what happened during the incident -- accounts are still surfacing of the day -- but Brown's body was left on the scene for hours following the shooting.
The people of Ferguson reacted immediately, protesting Brown's death and police treatment of the situation, with rioting following close on the heels of more peaceful demonstrations. The National Guard was soon called in.
Chief Jackson also spoke about the treatment of these protesters in his apology. "I do want to say to any peaceful protestor who did not feel that I did enough to protect their constitutional right to protest: I am sorry for that. The right of the people to peacefully assemble is what the police are here to protect. If anyone who was peacefully exercising that right is upset and angry, I feel responsible and I am sorry."
The New York Times reached out to Anthony Gray, a lawyer for the Brown family, about the apology. He said that the video “comes at a time when the trust and confidence in the chief has reached an irreversible low.” Officer Darren Wilson has yet to face the potential consequences of shooting Brown, as a grand jury is still deciding whether or not to indict him. That decision is due at the end of next month.
“Most observers, I believe, are locked into their opinions about the handling of the shooting of this unarmed teen," Gray told the Times. "Dynamite, much less an apology, will do little, in my opinion, to move anyone off their opinions at this point. Despite this, we remain prayerful that peace, calm, and justice will prevail.”