Ferguson Police Chief Hallucinated Journalists Who Wanted Cigarillo Caper Tape
Ever have one of those weeks at work? Something goes wrong over the weekend when you weren't even there, the guy at the top blames you for it, and suddenly they're giving your job to some jerk you've never heard of. By the time you get to Friday, you're so frazzled that you hallucinate a stampede of ravenous journalists demanding that you turn over something they don't know you have.
As police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, Tom Jackson has probably had more contact with the media in the past month than he expected to have in his entire career, and nothing got him more coverage than he got on Aug. 15 when, after having been deposed by Captain Ron, Jackson released still photos and video from a robbery allegedly committed by Michael Brown minutes before Brown was shot and killed by an officer under Jackson's command.
And those ungrateful slobs in the media, rather than just gobbling up these juicy scraps, couldn't stop asking Tom why.
Tom tried to explain about the "many" journalists who had demanded the tape, and how he'd tried to hold them back, but that those darn Sunshine Law requests just couldn't be ignored. The Ferguson Police Department was all about transparency, having immediately released the name of the officer who'd shot Michael Brown six days after the fact.
You will be shocked to learn, dear readers, that it is possible that the police in Ferguson actually wanted the tape to be released. A credible-looking new report on a site called TheBlot by independent journalist Matthew Keys claims that the Ferguson PD cannot produce any record of a member of the media requesting the surveillance tape of the robbery. One request from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was worded broadly enough that it could have plausibly encompassed the tape, had the reporter known the tape existed. Other materials explicitly covered by long-standing media information requests, such as 911 recordings and transcripts, have not been released.
The department swears they really only put out the tape because they were under siege with requests for it. They might not have gotten all of those requests in writing, since their email and website kept going down that week, but they sure did make a list of everyone who asked, according to the city attorney's statement to the Huffington Post. But the same city attorney, Stephanie Karr, tells TheBlot that there is no list of requests, because who expects them to have time to make a list of all those requests? They're busy.
Karr responded to a request for comment Saturday afternoon by denying the City of Ferguson had a log of verbal records requests.
“You assume that the Custodian of Records, somehow, logged every single question, statement or request for information, verbal or otherwise, made to every single police officer, city employee, consultant, appointed official or elected official,” Karr told TheBlot by e-mail. “That assumption is, quite simply, wrong and unrealistic.”
Karr’s statement to TheBlot appears to contradict one published earlier in the day by the Huffington Post.
“Many requests were made verbally due to the fact that the City’s website and email were down at several points during that week,” Karr told the website. “City personnel cataloged all requests and treated them in the same manner as it would any Sunshine Law request.”
The police in Ferguson want you to know that they were forced to release the tape of Michael Brown allegedly stealing cigarillos, against the reported advice of the buttinskis at the Department of Justice, because of the incessant demands of imaginary journalists. Will you non-existent jackals show some decency already? If only you'd stop pestering Tom Jackson with your haunting whispers in the night, he could stop putting out inflammatory material about the teenagers his officers kill.
You can follow Beth on Twitter. All Sunshine Law requests will be sent directly to the circular file.