The man tasked with overseeing the public relations strategy for Ferguson, Mo. in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer was dropped from his contract Thursday after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported he was a convicted killer.
Devin James, who city records show had been making $154.10 an hour to handle Ferguson’s media requests and rebuild its image, was convicted of reckless homicide in 2006 in Shelby County, Tenn., according to the report.
James told the newspaper that the shooting was in self-defense and said that he discloses information about his past to clients.
His firm, the Devin James Group, had originally been hired by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership for marketing work in north St. Louis County. The partnership agency then lent the firm’s services to Ferguson after the city was criticized for hiring a PR firm that appeared to only employ white staffers.
A video released Thursday of Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson apologizing to the family of Michael Brown was also attributed to the Devin James Group.
James told local TV station KMOV that county executive Charlie Dooley and Denny Coleman, CEO of the partnership agency, terminated his contract Thursday evening. He told the news station that his contract with the partnership agency was valued at $100,000 but that he had not yet been paid.
But regardless of James’ status with the partnership agency, Ferguson officials still appear willing to continue working with the PR rep.
James told KMOV that he called both Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III and the city manager immediately after being terminated from the partnership agency. Knowles had told the Post-Dispatch that James’ personal story of leaving behind a troubled past to found a successful company was inspiring.
“They assured me that they wanted me to stay and that they value my expertise,” he told the news station.
“I’m not done with Ferguson,” he added.
James appeared alongside Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson as he addressed protesters late Thursday night outside police headquarters, according to the Post-Dispatch.
This post has been updated.
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