Capt. Ron Johnson Criticizes Ferguson Police Info Release
The Missouri State Highway Patrol captain charged with keeping peace in the streets of Ferguson, Mo. offered straight-forward criticism of the Ferguson Police Department after it released the name of the police officer that fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last week.
“I would liked to have been consulted about that,” Johnson told reporters at a Friday press conference.
He was responding to a question about Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson’s announcement earlier in the day that Officer Darren Wilson shot Brown. He also announced that Brown was a strong suspect in a strong-armed robbery that had occurred moments before the fatal encounter.
Protests began shortly after Jackson’s announcement to denounce the coupling of the name announcement with a claim that appeared to paint Brown in negative terms.
“I think we probably could have said some things a little bit different at that press conference, and maybe given out some information in a different way,” Johnson told KSDK during an interview earlier Friday.
“I think [the robbery and the shooting] are two separate issues,” he said. “People in our country commit crimes every day. I don’t want to mix the two, I’m not going to say that one justifies the other, and I think if we’re going to give answers, we need to not give hints. We need to say it.”
Approximately 14 minutes before he was shot, Brown and a friend, Dorian Johnson, allegedly committed a strong-armed robbery at a nearby convenience store. Ferguson police provided an information packet that showed Brown allegedly shoved the store’s owner and stole a package of cigars.
Ferguson police have maintained that Wilson was assaulted by Brown and that the teen tried to take his weapon.
Brown’s friend who was with him at the time, Dorian Johnson, said that Brown was surrendering to Wilson before the officer began shooting again.
But if Brown and Johnson were involved in the strong-armed robbery, that may change the story for why Wilson approached the two. Johnson has said in interviews that the officer told them to get out of the street and that they were targeted for no legitimate reason.
Details of what the officer knew about the alleged robbery were not made clear in the Ferguson police department’s Friday release.
Jackson did not field questions to address details in the information packet.
At his press conference, Johnson said that he will be meeting with Jackson later Friday to analyze the evidence in the information packet.
He said he saw the press conference on television and that he had not viewed a video from the convenience store that Brown and Johnson allegedly robbed.
As part of his community outreach effort, Johnson said he will be walking down to the QuikTrip convenience store which was sacked during heavy looting on Sunday. There he said he plans to answer questions from citizens about the report.
Gov. Jay Nixon appointed Johnson to oversee the police response to community demonstrations which had grown out of control each night since the shooting and involved looting and a heavily-armed police presence.
Follow Chuck on Twitter