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Embattled Ferguson police chief resigns

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson will resign amid ongoing controversy surrounding the city's police force
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson will resign... 06:19

Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson resigned his position Wednesday, a high-ranking city official confirmed to CBS News.

The development comes a week after a Department of Justice report heavily criticized the Ferguson police department for bias against African American citizens.

The report charged that police disproportionately use excessive force against blacks and that black drivers are stopped and searched far more often than white motorists, even though they're less likely to be carrying contraband.

Mayor James Knowles III called Jackson an "honorable man" and said after much "soul-searching" Jackson agreed to resign.

"It was very hard for him to leave and for us to have him leave," said Knowles at a Wednesday evening press conference.

Ferguson police chief on what's changed since... 02:26

Jackson, 57, was rumored for several months to be resigning, but it was never confirmed. Just three weeks ago in an interview with CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds, Chief Jackson said he had no plans to resign.

Jackson's departure comes seven months after the shooting death of 18-year-old African American teen Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a white police officer who was later cleared of criminal charges by a grand jury and the Justice Department.

Ferguson released a statement saying the resignation come is a "mutual by both the police chief and the city administration." Jackson will continue receive his roughly $96,000 annual salary and health insurance for one year.

Lt. Col. Al Eickhoff will become acting chief of police effective March 19 and Ferguson will begin a nationwide search for a new chief.

On Tuesday, the Ferguson city manager left his position after a vote by the city council.

The manager John Shaw, who originally hired Jackson, denied that he was complicit in anything the Justice Department's findings highlighted.

"My office has never instructed the police department to target African Americans, nor falsify charges to administer fines, nor heap abuses on the backs of the poor," Shaw said in a statement.

Last week two police commanders resigned and the city court clerk was fired after the Justice Department report revealed racially charged emails between city employees.

At a press conference also last week, Knowles said that the Justice Department's findings allow his administration to focus on racial problems in Ferguson and in the St. Louis region as well.

"Let me be clear, this type of behavior will not be tolerated in the Ferguson Police Department or in any department in the city of Ferguson," said Knowles.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department issued a statement on the latest developments in Ferguson.

Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a statement that the city remains a "top priority."

"The division will continue to work with Ferguson Police and city leadership, regardless of whomever is in those positions, to reach a court enforceable agreement that will address their unconstitutional practices in a comprehensive manner," said Gupta's statement.

The August 9, 2014 shooting of Brown touched off months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson, then later around the nation. Demonstrators took to the streets in frustration over not only his death, but the July 17, 2014 death of Eric Garner, who was killed in a chokehold applied by a New York City police officer.

A grand jury also declined to indict the officer in that case as well.

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