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Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, on Saturday resigned from the department, his attorney told NBC News.
The shooting death of Brown, 18, on Aug. 9 touched off angry protests in the St. Louis suburb, some of which involved looting and confrontations with police who used tear gas on crowds. More protests — sometimes turning violent — erupted this week after a grand jury declined to indict Wilson in Brown’s death Monday.
In his resignation letter, obtained by NBC station KSDK, Wilson said he hopes the resignation calms the town. He also seems to acknowledge that he will never be a police officer again, as his lawyer said this week.
In the letter, Wilson says, "I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow."
"It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal," the letter reads.
Wilson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Saturday that "I'm resigning of my own free will," and "I'm not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me." He called resigning "the hardest thing I've ever had to do," according to the newspaper.
Anthony Gray, an attorney representing the Brown family, said in a statement that "I believe Officer Darren Wilson made a personal decision that was in his best interest given the circumstances."
Wilson, who is white, claimed Brown, who is black, tried to grab his gun and that he was forced to shoot the unarmed teen after Brown charged him. Some witnesses claimed Brown had his hands up when he was shot. The shooting ignited controversy and protests across the country and a discussion over race and policing.
Wilson told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos this week that he has a "clean conscience" in the shooting, that Brown did not have his hands up, and that "I know I did my job right." He also said that he was sorry Brown lost his life, and feels remorse.
Twelve businesses were torched amid protests in Ferguson Monday night after the grand jury's decision was announced. The decision prompted protests in cities across the nation and "die-ins" at shopping centers on Black Friday.
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