When the Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson decided on 8/15/14 to leak to the press the video of Michael Brown shoplifting cigarillos at the same time he divulged the name of the police officer who shot him, he was demonstrating the same attitude that recently prompted the Ferguson Police Public Relations Officer, Timothy Zoll to describe Michael Brown’s memorial as a pile of trash to a Washington Post reporter. Chief Jackson stated for the record, that the video of Michael Brown’s stealing cigarillos at the convenient store had no connection to Police Officer Darren Wilson’s initial contact with Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson, but he was releasing the video due to media demands..
On the 8/15/14 press conference, the Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson described the stealing of cigarillos from the convenient store by Michael Brown as a strong armed robbery. He announced that the box of cigars stolen amounted to $50.00. He said that it was categorized as a strong arm robbery because Michael Brown shoved the clerk as he exited the store. However, Chief Jackson was well aware that the amount of goods that Michael Brown took from the store was worth $15.00. His rant during the press release made him sound like Sean Hannity of Fox TV. He complained about the press jumping to conclusions while getting the facts wrong as in the initial media descriptions against George Zimmerman. He commented that people need brain cells or just some common sense.
The press kept questioning the police chief as to why he was releasing the video of the convenient store theft at the same time he was disclosing the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown. He dodged the question but the answer is obvious. He wanted to tarnish the image of Michael Brown to influence public opinion via the media and he was immensely successful with this tactic. The media pundits for the next few days were debating the convenient store theft video and how it may have led to Michael Brown’s death.
Just for the record, the Sergeant supervisor who was the on duty superior on 8/9/14 and who was the first officer to debrief Officer Wilson about the shooting, provided grand jury testimony which specifically indicates that Officer Wilson had no knowledge of the convenient store theft. The data on this fact can be found in Volume V of the grand jury transcriptions, page 56. The following reflects what was discussed.
The prosecutor asked, “Did he talk about the stealing that occurred at Ferguson Market, that he was stopping these two to investigate that?”
The sergeant supervisor answered, “He said he did not have that call, that call I later found out was given to Officer xxxx.”
The prosecutor followed up, “Did he know about it, did he talk about the stealing?”
The sergeant supervisor responded, “He did not know anything about the stealing call.”
On the 8/14/14 press meeting, the Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson was bombarded with questions regarding his military type handling of protest groups. A Al-Jazeera reporter asked why her team was hit by rubber bullets and tear gas even though they had complied with all police directives. He was questioned about the two reporters who were arrested the previous evening. Throughout the press conference he admitted no wrong doing. He explained that he has placed tactical commanders on the ground to make decisions on how to best manage the protesting crowds and that the military vehicles will stay in case protestors become violent. He stated, “It’s a crowd. If the crowd is getting violent, and you don’t want to get violent, get out of the crowd.”
The 8/14/2014 press conference by Ferguson Police Chief Jackson was the precursor to him releasing the convenient store video at the 8/15/14 press conference. This exemplifies his mind set of him to focusing on redeeming the reputation of his police force from the onslaught of negative media press instead of placing the well being of the Ferguson community as his primary concern. He knew he was going to be launching a bombshell on 8/15/14 which would turn public sentiment away from Michael Brown, while indicting the press as being too quick to render judgment on this case without being in possession of all the facts. He would be muddying up the waters regarding the case against Officer Wilson for having fatally shot the young, unarmed Black man, Michael Brown on 8/9/14. He was planning to win the trifecta when he leaked the convenient store theft video along with the name of Police Officer Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown.
This Machiavellian move by the Police Chief Thomas Jackson to release the video despite DOJ strong objections, set the stage as to how this case would be handled until the grand jury finalized the decision not to charge Police Officer Darren Wilson with a crime. There would be continuous leaks to the media over time to color the public’s impression towards Police Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown.