Anonymous Very Definitely Identifies Police Officer In Michael Brown Shooting, Or Maybe Not. Who Can Say?
The hacktivist group Anonymousclaimed this morning that it had identified the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot Michael Brown to death on Saturday, but the St Louis County Police Department stated that Anonymous had the wrong name; as of right now, the Twitter account that released the information has been suspended. So here's how it shook out:
At around 10:30 Eastern, Anonymous released the name and photo of Bryan Willman, claiming that he was definitely the cop who shot Brown. Within a half hour, the St Louis County PD replied with a Tweet saying that Bryan Willman is "not even an officer with Ferguson or St. Louis County PD" and asking that the group not release "any more info on this random citizen." Almost immediately, Anonymous followed up by tweeting a screenshot of a Facebook page (now also gone) allegedly showing Willman. Anonymous has said it will continue to release more information on Willman as the day progresses, and when asked by a reporter from Russian network RT (so yes, get out your saltshaker) how confident they were in their identification, a member of Anonymous replied,
“They shouldn't leave anyone to guess. Period.”
“The US government misfires and accidentally kills citizens all the time, especially overseas, and no one bats an eye. But if a wrong name is released because THEY refuse to release one? That's cool, because we don't have the data they do.”
Which, really, gets pretty much to the point -- slimy though Anonymous can often be, we wouldn't be trying to find out who the cop was if the Ferguson PD had followed what seems to be normal procedure in other police-related shootings and identified the cop involved in the shooter right away. It's an action by a public agency, and supposedly a matter of public record. Ah, but releasing the name of the cop would put the poor fellow at risk, so now it's secret, and the police are insisting it will remain secret until (and if) charges are brought against the officer who shot Brown, or maybe in the latter half of the century, when all the witnesses have retired and been placed in nursing homes. Except of course it can't be kept secret forever, and the police's absolute refusal to release details of the shooting is just making things worse. There's probably a really funny joke to be made about that, we bet. Something about the value of a free press and an informed citizenry versus the tendency of government agencies to try to clam up and avoid admitting anything, ever.
Most recently, an alternate Twitter account for Anonymous announced that the group was "ceasing any future dox releases until further notice," so let's just throw that additional factoid on the pile -- are they teasing, being responsible, or maybe they're completely inaccurate and they know it? Again, their speculation wouldn't be necessary if the Ferguson and St. Louis County PD's had behaved like public agencies instead of paramilitary groups.
On Tuesday, the ACLU of Missouri filed formal requests to both departments requesting release of the officer's name under Missouri's sunshine law, which requires that such requests be acted on "no later than the end of the third business day following the date the request is received." That would be tomorrow, but we're not getting our hopes up. After all, now the police can claim that they need to protect the cop from the threat posed by the Black Panthers.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.