Ferguson city attorney to resign, commends leaders' 'grace'

AP News
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Posted: May 24, 2016 2:57 PM
Ferguson city attorney to resign, commends leaders' 'grace'

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Ferguson's city attorney has announced plans to step down, just a few weeks after the St. Louis suburb engulfed in racial unrest since Michael Brown's 2014 death announced they were replacing her as local prosecutor.

Stephanie Karr, Ferguson's city attorney since 2004 and prosecutor since 2011, announced her resignation Monday in writing, calling the decision "mine alone" and pledging to stay on the job until her successor is hired.

Karr's departure marks the latest top Ferguson official to step aside since the shooting death of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed, by white city officer Darren Wilson spawned often-violent protests over police treatment of minorities in the largely black suburb. The city manager, municipal judge and police chief already have resigned.

Karr declined a request for an interview Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Karr had been criticized by a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of Ferguson's justice system after Brown's death. Wilson later was cleared of wrongdoing and resigned in November 2014.

But a federal investigation found significant racial bias in Ferguson's criminal justice system, leading to a settlement in March between the Justice Department and Ferguson over reforms. The Justice Department also accused Karr of retaliating against attorneys who challenged her and dismissing friends' tickets.

Karr lately has drawn public scrutiny for her role in pressing prosecutions of protesters accused of having failed to comply with law enforcers during the suburb's unrest, even in instances the Justice Department cited as constitutional infringements,

At least five protesters have been acquitted in recent weeks, with private lawyers acting as prosecutors for Ferguson, including Karr, having billed the city more than $11,000 for those cases.

In her resignation letter Monday, Karr commended Ferguson leaders for their "grace" in the tumult in the months that followed Brown's death.

"I will always have an undying admiration for those officials and employees who served during the later part of 2014," she wrote. "They taught me a new meaning of strength, courage and commitment. I am astounded by the grace with which they carried out their service to the citizens of the city during very difficult circumstances.

"My thoughts will continue to be with prior and current officials and employees and those who make this community home," she added. "I will always hope for the future of this great city."

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Suhr reported from Kansas City, Missouri.