When Thomas Jackson, the police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, talked to reporters this morning, it was mostly to give information about Michael Brown, not the shooting that killed Michael Brown. Jackson shared the name of the officer who shot the unarmed teen, Darren Wilson, but also released details about Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store shortly before his death.
But something didn’t seem quite right. Earlier in the week, the police chief also said Brown had not been stopped by police because of any criminal activity. So, if Wilson had no idea Brown was accused of stealing cigars just minutes before their encounter, why was the teenager approached in the first place? For jaywalking.
…Darren Wilson, the officer who stopped Brown, wasn’t even aware that Brown was a suspect in the robbery, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Friday afternoon. He initially stopped Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, because the pair was walking in the middle of the street, Jackson said.
The chief specifically told reporters this afternoon that Brown and his friend were approached “because they were walking down the middle of the street, blocking traffic.”
This is what Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, has said all along. It seemed odd to think a police officer would approach two robbery suspects by telling them to get back on the sidewalk, but that’s not what happened – they were told to go to the sidewalk because they were jaywalking. The officer didn’t know anything about what transpired at the convenience store just minutes prior.
So why would the Ferguson police department release the information about Brown and the cigars to the public if it was unrelated to Saturday’s shooting and the ensuing chaos? Because, Jackson said, he was responding to a FOIA request.
On the one hand, if it’s good for the local police to make themselves available to journalists. On the other, I’m not sure Chief Jackson is making things better right now.
For those who missed Jackson’s latest press conference: