A video apology released Thursday from Police Chief Thomas Jackson amid ongoing Ferguson protests sparked anger among some who said it was too little, too late. The video, released by a PR firm, was an apology for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in August by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The shooting has been linked to weeks of often violent protests in the St. Louis suburb.
The video was the first time that Jackson has publicly said anything to Brown’s family.
“Before we can engage in further discussion of the broader issues, I think it’s important that we address the central issue that brought us here today, and that’s the death of Michael Brown,” Jackson said in the video. “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. I’m truly sorry for the loss of your son.”
He also addressed racial tensions that have been an undercurrent of the Ferguson protests. One complaint from the African-American community has been that Brown’s body was left in the street for too long as investigating officers worked the scene.
“[I]t was just too long, and I’m truly sorry for that,” said Jackson. “Please know that the investigating officers meant no disrespect to the Brown family, to the African-American community or the people of Canfield. They were simply trying to do their jobs.”
In an email to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brown family attorney Anthony Gray said that community trust in the chief “has reached an irreversible low.”
“It is nearly impossible to measure any reach of his apology at this time,” Gray told the Post-Dispatch. “Most observers, I believe, are locked into their opinions about the handling of the shooting of this unarmed teen. Dynamite, much less an apology, will do little, in my opinion to move anyone off their opinions at this point.”
After the video was released, the police chief stepped out wearing plain clothes to personally address the crowd participating in the Ferguson protests. Many people yelled at him as he called for calm and apologized again.
CNN reports that Jackson’s late night appearance heightened emotions of the Ferguson protests as the crowd yelled questions and hurled accusations at the police chief. But despite the criticism, he said he will not resign over the incident.
“If you are not resigning tonight, go home,” one man yelled at him on a bullhorn.
“What do you want me to do?” Jackson asked a protester. “Talk to me.”
Jackson’s appearance in the midst of the Ferguson protests was followed by some violence nearby that led to the arrests of several people. It was not clear if the scuffle had anything to do with Jackson.
The apology and the police chief’s willingness to engage with people taking part in the protests in Ferguson was seen to ultimately have a calming effect on the situation by Friday morning.
[Image via KSDK]