CNN led its 10 p.m. hour, “CNN Tonight”, with breaking news–the chief of police in Ferguson, Missouri was set to resign–perhaps as early as next week.
CNN’s Evan Perez, cited “government officials” who indicated Chief Thomas Jackson would leave his job, and the St. Louis County police chief would step in and take control of Ferguson’s police force. The move was described as an effort to restore faith in the department after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
But moments later, Jackson told St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers that he had no plans to resign, and “he says CNN reports are completely wrong.”
Within the hour, the Ferguson Police Department had released its own statement via Twitter:
Ferguson Chief says he has not resigned, He has not been told to resign. He has not been fired. If he leaves, it will be his choice alone.
— Ferguson Police Dept (@FPD_PUBLIC_INFO) October 29, 2014
CNN suggested the initial report may reflect an effort originating in Washington to remove the chief, even as reporters in Missouri, including CNN’s Sara Sidner, described local leaders as unaware of any move to force the chief out:
“Nobody in my chain of command has asked me to resign, nor have I been terminated,” (Jackson) said on the phone to CNN.
And Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said there is no plan in place for the police chief to step down.
When asked whether the federal government was pressuring the city to force out the police chief, he told CNN: “People have been saying that for months, I mean for him to step down. But we’ve stood by him this entire time. So there is no change on that.”