POLITICS

Why Won't Police Release Michael Brown Incident Report? (UPDATED)

08/21/2014 01:30 pm 13:30:19 | Updated Aug 21, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told reporters last week that media requests forced him to release an incident report and video that allegedly shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store and stealing a box of cigars. But he has yet to release another incident report documenting Brown's killing, which various media outlets have also demanded.

"All I did — what I did was — was release the videotape to you, because I had to," Jackson told reporters when asked why he released the robbery footage. "I’d been sitting on it, but I — too many people put in a FOI request for that thing, and I had to release that tape to you."

Jackson later said that officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown, stopped him because he was walking in the middle of the street, not because he was a robbery suspect.

The two incidents took place about ten minutes apart, according to USA Today, and generated two different police reports.

But even after nearly two weeks of protests, which grew increasingly contentious the night following the release of the video tape, the incident report for the shooting remains secret.

"How do you pick and choose and decide what—the press has asked for a lot of stuff. That’s the only thing you’ve released," Rev. Clinton Stancil of St. Louis said on Democracy Now. "How did you come to that decision? What was your decision-making process?"

The choice not to release the incident report for the killing becomes all the more puzzling as sources, granted either partial or total anonymity, have begun talking to the media, telling what is purportedly officer Wilson's side of the story, which would be reflected in the incident report.

Former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, himself no stranger to controversy over heavy-handed police tactics, has said that the trickle of information released by authorities is helping to fuel the unrest that has engulfed Ferguson.

Telling the public what happened “certainly has the potential for quelling or lessening disturbances,” Kelly said. “You tell them what you know and tell them what you don’t know, rather than dribbling it out.”

Dennis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union writes that the Ferguson Police Department's release of the robbery video calls "into question the department's commitment to ensuring an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Michael Brown."

"The decision to disclose them suggests an attempt to assassinate Mr. Brown's character by showing that he had roughly pushed a convenience store clerk on the day that he was killed," Parker continued. "The one-sided and piecemeal disclosure of potentially irrelevant and prejudicial information, while continuing to withhold the critical police incident report that the public has demanded, suggests a desire to confuse rather than to shine a light on what happened."

UPDATE: Ferguson City Attorney, Stephanie Karr told The Huffington Post that the St. Louis County Police Department is in charge of deciding when the shooting incident report will be released.

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