Ferguson, MO- Ferguson police, after initially planning to release the name of the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown by noon on Tuesday, decided on Tuesday to keep the officer’s identity anonymous for an unknown period of time.
“A lot of threats against the officer were made on Twitter, Facebook, all social media,” said Ferguson Officer Timothy Zoll. “We are protecting the officer’s safety by not releasing the name.”
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson told St. Louis news station Newschannel 5 that the officer’s name will not be released unless a judge makes an order to do so or if charges are filed.
The killing of Brown by the Ferguson police officer has led to the launching of several investigations headed by the FBI, the St. Louis County NAACP and the St. Louis County Police Department. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has also asked the Department of Justice to conduct an independent investigation.
These investigations may prove more difficult than other cases involving shootings by police due to the fact that Ferguson police vehicles do not have dashboard cameras, and the officers do not wear body cameras. Jackson said that the department recently purchased the items, but have not actually equipped vehicles or officers with them yet.
There were witnesses who saw the shooting take place last Saturday, and their accounts of the incident contradict accounts from authorities that claimed Brown assaulted an officer and tried to take his gun.
Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson was one of those witnesses; he told MSNBC that he was walking down a street with Brown when a police officer, in his cruiser, began following them. “His exact words were get the f—k on the sidewalk,” Johnson said, referring to the officer who was driving alongside them. Johnson recounted that they continued walking and the officer abruptly backed up his car and tried opening his door. According to Johnson, the door bounced off of the young men and back onto the officer, and that was when the officer reached out of his car window and grabbed Brown. Johnson said after the physical altercation, the officer said “I’m gonna shoot you.”
According to CNN, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that “the preliminary investigation showed that the Ferguson officer tried to exit his vehicle, but Brown pushed him back into the car” and assaulted him.
The shooting led to angry citizens taking to the streets of Ferguson, and vandalism and looting of area businesses were reported. Hacktivist group Anonymous reportedly released a video supporting protesters demonstrating for Brown while delivering a strong warning to the Ferguson Police Department:
“To the Ferguson Police Department and any other jurisdictions who are deployed to the protests: we are watching you very closely. If you abuse, harass – or harm in any way the protesters in Ferguson we will take every web based asset of your departments and governments off line. That is not a threat, it is a promise. Attacking the protesters will result in the release of personal information on every single member of the Ferguson Police Department, as well as any other jurisdiction that participates in the abuse of this States own law. We will seize all your databases and E-Mail spools and dump them on the Internet. This is your first and last warning.”
“The time has come for more than simple justice for these atrocities. The time has come to draw a line in the sand. The time has come to bring those to justice, who served to protect us, not kill us.”
St. Louis news station reported that Anonymous had hacked the City Of Ferguson’s website Sunday evening.