WASHINGTON, March 12, 2015 – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that police officers were shot outside the Ferguson Police Department Wednesday evening around midnight. Social media reports are saying that the officers where shot from the location of a home across from the station.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Ferguson Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff said he didn’t think either of the officers was from his department. He also didn’t know the extent of their injuries. Eickhoff was not at the scene at the time of the shooting but said he was headed there.
A police source said one of the officers is a St. Louis County officer and the other a Webster Groves officer. The source said both officers are expected to survive. The officers were taken to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where there was a large number of police vehicles.
Updated reports are that one of the officers is 41, the other 32. They are both seriously wounded with shots to the upper torso and face, but conscious.
This latest unrest follows peaceful protests after the release of the March 4 Department of Justice report that outlined a chronic problem of racial animosity toward the communities’ largely African-American population.
Wednesday afternoon Mayor James Knowles announced that Police Chief Jackson, aged 57, would be resigning as of March 19, making him the sixth Ferguson official to have resigned or been fired following the DOJ report.
“It is with profound sadness that I am announcing I am stepping down from my position as chief of police for the city of Ferguson, Mo.,” Jackson said, adding that serving the city as police chief “has been an honor and a privilege.”
City Manager John Shaw resigned Tuesday.
The Ferguson Police Department has been characterized as being contemptuous toward the people they served, culminating in the shooting of Michael Brown last year and leading to a ongoing protests, many of which were violent in the early days. Darren Wilson, the former officer who shot and killed Brown, was acquitted of wrongdoing in the shooting.
The DOJ report outlines “a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct … that violates the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments … and federal statutory law.”
A complaint often heard from the residents being interviewed, and supported in the report, is that the police would harass and arrest people with little or often no reason at all.
According to the report, Ferguson police did treat the mostly black and largely poor inhabitants of the St. Louis suburb as a municipal money machine.
“City and police leadership,” says the report, “pressure officers to write citations independent of any public safety need, and rely on citation productivity to fund the City budget.”
The report states that black drivers in Ferguson are more than twice as likely as white ones to be searched during traffic stops even though white drivers are significantly more likely to be found with contraband.