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Friday, August 15, 2014

Ferguson Officer Stopped Michael Brown for Walking in Street, Not Robbery: Police Chief [UPDATE]

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM

click to enlarge Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson releases information about the officer who shot Michael Brown and a related robbery. - CHAD GARRISON
  • Chad Garrison
  • Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson releases information about the officer who shot Michael Brown and a related robbery.

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson first stopped Michael Brown on August 9 because he was walking in the street, not because Brown allegedly robbed a box of Swisher Sweets from a convenience store.

Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson released security-camera footage on Friday of Michael Brown allegedly robbing a box of Swisher Sweets from a convenience store at the same time that he named Wilson as the officer who shot Brown.

The dual release -- along with the timeline provided by Jackson -- seemed to imply Wilson knew Brown was a robbery suspect when he stopped him. Six hours after releasing the robbery information, Jackson clarified that the robbery isn't directly related to the reason Wilson stopped Brown.

"[Wilson's] initial contact [with Brown] was not related to the robbery," Jackson said. "It was related to blocking the road."

UPDATE 4:33 p.m.: Jackson tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Wilson saw the cigars in Brown's hands and suspected him of being the robber.

But now even that is up for debate:

So why did Jackson release the robbery information at the same time as Wilson's name?

"Because the press asked for it," Jackson said. "We needed to release that at the same time so that we could keep open and give you all the information we have. I don't think there's anything else to give out."

See also: Michael Brown Police Report: Photos Suggest Robbery Beforehand, Limited Other Details

Brown's family and Ferguson residents say they're furious over the police department's timing.

"Michael Brown's family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piecemeal information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight," the family said in a statement released by lawyers. "The prolonged release of the officer's name and then the subsequent alleged information regarding a robbery is the reason why the family and the local community have such distrust for the local law enforcement agencies."

The officer newly in charge of police security in Ferguson, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, says he wished Jackson had alerted him that he planned to release the information this morning.

"I think that information should have come out in a different way," Johnson said. At a press conference, Ferguson neighbors demanded to know why the information was released at once, calling Jackson's methods "disgusting."

"They're getting cynical, they're getting angry again," one woman told Johnson.

See all Riverfront Times coverage of Michael Brown and Ferguson.

Jackson later apologized for the "communications breakdown," and said he should have alerted Johnson.

Johnson reassured neighbors that he would study the information released by Jackson and discuss it with them at the QuikTrip in Ferguson.

"This is an old wound," Johnson said about the strain between neighbors and police. "It's time to stop saying this is an old wound and get it closed for good."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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