Ferguson PD Backtrack After Linking Michael Brown To Robbery

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson released a video allegedly showing Michael Brown robbing a convenience store hours before he was shot.

Ferguson PD Backtrack After Linking Michael Brown To Robbery
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After almost a week of protests and community unrest, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson finally revealed some key details on Friday about the shooting of Michael Brown. The chief first disclosed something protesters have been demanding for a while now: the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. (Video via KSHB)

"Darren Wilson. He's been a police officer for six years, has had no disciplinary action taken against him." (Video via CBS)

But the police also released something else — surveillance footage and an incident report which implicate Brown in a convenience store robbery on the same day of the shooting. (Video via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Jackson said the video and report were released following a Freedom of Information Act request. It's still not clear which outlet filed that request.

This new information has drawn harsh criticism from the Brown family, who accused the Ferguson police of trying to "assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight."

The report has certainly changed the tone of the conversation around Michael Brown's death, at least on some parts of Twitter.

But as a Vox writer reminds us, Brown's character shouldn't be the focus of attention here. "The penalty for stealing cigars from a convenience store is not death. This case is about whether Wilson was legally justified in shooting Michael Brown."

A representative for Brown's family agrees. 

ANTHONY GRAY: "We were finally getting to a point where we were starting to just galvanize the questions that everyone was curious about, and now we're focused on the sideshow."

Which might be why Jackson held a press Q&A five hours after the initial report was released.

"This robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer and Michael Brown."

According to the police chief, Wilson was unaware of the robbery when he first encountered Michael Brown — the initial confrontation apparently happened because Brown was "walking down the street blocking traffic."

A CNN analyst says that detail changes the relevance of the robbery footage to the case.

"Michael Brown may have reacted thinking he was being pulled over because of the robbery, even if the officer wasn't aware of it, so how Michael Brown is going to react is very significant."

As for the officer involved in the shooting, he's been placed on administrative leave following the incident.

But it's worth noting that the 18-year veteran St. Louis cop and head of the city's Ethical Society of Police — who also happens to be named Darren Wilson — is not the officer involved in this incident, as explained on his group's Facebook page.