Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson apparently lied about why he released the security tapes of Michael Brown robbing a convenience store.
A report from The Huffington Post says that Jackson claimed that he’d received so many Freedom of Information Act requests for the surveillance tape that he had no choice. However, in truth, the department never received these requests.
The Huffington Post’s source, Matthew Keys of The Blot, says that reviews of open records requests to Ferguson’s PD show none for the surveillance tape. However, Jackson still told the press on August 15:
“All I did — what I did was — was release the videotape to you, because I had to. I’d been sitting on it, but I — too many people put in a [Freedom of Information Act] request for that thing, and I had to release that tape to you.”
This was despite the fact that the tape had nothing to do with Darren Wilson fatally shooting an unarmed man. And, according to The Blot’s review, only one journalist had made a request that we might understand as asking for the surveillance tape. Joel Currier of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch requested any and all evidence that led up to Brown’s death.
The Huffington Post reached out to Currier about that request, and Currier said that he couldn’t remember whether he knew anything about a robbery at the time. He thought he’d heard rumors, but nothing that had been confirmed. He said that he hoped he’d get as much information as possible, which is why he requested everything he could.
Ferguson police can’t seem to find all those FOIA requests…
In addition to Matthew Keys’ request for all FOIA requests, a journalist named Andrew Perez asked for all the FOIA requests too, and, like Keys, he didn’t find any requests for that tape. He and Keys had a brief conversation on Twitter about it.
Perez also spoke to the Ferguson PD spokesperson, who said he couldn’t remember any requests for that tape, either.
Perez did say that one reporter for St. Louis’ local Fox station said she requested it, however, he didn’t get that specific request in all the other information he got. Fox News 2 says that other media outlets had asked for the tape through the Sunshine Law. Sunshine laws are state level laws that require open records of meetings and other official business, and are basically state-level FOIA laws.
If there were so many FOIA requests for that surveillance tape, surely someone looking for those requests would have found something. The police department’s spokesperson would probably have a vague memory of some FOIA requests for it. None of that would have just vanished without a trace. So, it looks more and more like Ferguson’s PD is trying to cover for an officer they’re afraid was in the wrong. Otherwise, why all the gymnastics? Why not either a) send these two the surveillance requests, or b) lie about even having them to begin with?