Ferguson Cops Lie, Media Covers Up for Them
Now this is getting interesting. On Saturday, news flashed blared htat a cop was shot near a protest in Ferguson, raising the question as to whether the shooting was related to the protest. Finally clamping down ont he rumor mill (cop died; it was a female cop; ect.), the police make a statement announcing there is no connection between the protests and the shooting, but rather the cop was making a routine check of local businesses when he saw two black men burglarizing a local business and confronted them. That is when the suspects, according the police, shot the cop and ran off. So, another brave police officer saves a business from looters.
Slowly, however, the story became less heroic. As it stands now, the cop approached one man, not two, "standing" behind a community center, not burglarizing it, and the man ran before the cop chased him and the man turned around and fired at the cop. Of course, the community is already yelling B.S., that the police are clearly lying, but instead of reporting the fact that the police has already openly lied to the media, the media is just reporting 'updates' instead of saying "the police lied to us earlier and is now changing their story."
Two quick notes: in most urban areas, if you are a young black man walking through a secluded area- on your way home or to a friend's house or to a nearby anti-police brutality protest, for example- and a lone police car pulls up and a lone cop gets out of the car and there are no witnesses, you are probably going to be scared enough to run. If you are in Ferguson, MO, your lawyer would probably advise you to run. So, a black man walking behind the community center running at the site of a police who has him secluded is not suspicious behavior. Secondly, we have not heard from the "suspect," and, therefore, do not know his side of the story.
So, are the police lying about what happened? Did officer friendly just walk up and say "Greetings Citizen! May I be of service to you in some capacity?" Or did he, like cops in general and cops in Ferguson are reputed to do, behave menacingly to a man minding his own business? While historically this has been a subject up for much debate, since Mike Brown was killed by Ferguson Police in early August, this is actually an easy problem to solve. See, Ferguson now requires all cops to wear body cameras to capture their on duty interactions with community members. So, let's not rely on he-said-she-said, let's use technology to solve this problem and look at the body cam tape!
Oh. We can't do that because the police turned off the body cam tape before his interaction with the man alone behind the rec center.
The police are lying, which should be of no surprise to anyone. However, the worse part is that the media is not only refusing to say to them "Why are you lying to us," in some instances they are actively helping the police cover up the fact that they are lying.
For example, it is common media practice- and good journalism- that when there is a material change in the story, to either publish a new story or, in the online world, to announce the material change as an update and explain the difference between the two. For example, going from two suspects to one, a business to a community center and confronting suspects to approaching a man are signifcant changes in the story. These are not changes that happened because new witnesses showed up either. There is ONLY ONE PERSON WHO COULD BE CHANGING THE STORY, BECAUSE THERE IS ONLY ONE WITNESS- THE COP.
But instead of writing a new story about how the cops have been lying, or even marking changes to the story as updates, CNN.com has just been updating the story without letting readers know the story is changing. CNN posted their story at cnn.com/2014/09/27/us/ferguson-police-officer-shot/. From the date in the URL, the story was posted on Saturday, September 27th, 2014 and, at this writing, was last updated on Sunday, September 28th at 8:10pm.
CNN will not allow the video to be embeded, but the story features a video from KSDK 5 in St. Louis where St. Louis County Police spokesperson John Belmar announces the officer "encountered 2 male individuals that ran from him." But in the text version of the CNN.com story, it states "He saw a 'male subject' at the rear of the building. When the officer got out of his car to question him, the man ran, and the officer gave chase."
This is a big difference (facing two robbers, cop is outnumbered) and the two accounts did not come from witnesses, because there were none, it could only come from the cop himself who, obviously, lied about the 2 suspects to make the story more heroic. CNN makes no mention of the change, which could inform public opinion about the veracity of the police version of events, they just make the change and pretect the police from their own words. This is garbage journalism. Shame on CNN.
Additionally, it was reported over and over that the cop saw the "men,", later man, exiting the building, as if he just robbed it. Now the media is saying it "appears" no burglary took place, but they are not saying the police lied to them about the community center being robbed, because the cop clearly did not see anyone exiting the building.
Move importantly, because the police are actively changing the story and because the cop turned off the video cam at the exact time it should have been on, even more questions should be raised, rather than versions being covered up. The police admit to firing "multiple" shots, but was the cops' shooting in return or in aggression? In other words, did the cop fire first and the "suspect" return fire to protect himself from ending up like Mike Brown? I don't know, you don't know, but the history of policing in Ferguson, and elsewhere, as well as the ever evolving story, certainly raises the question.
Here is some chronology of the ever changing story:
- - HuffPo original story. Note the video identifying two suspects and the full Rueters story.
- - St. Louis Today updating story. At least the Post Dispatch is announcing updates, but the lack of skepticism is indicative of journalism today.
- - Original AP story. Again with the two suspects.
- - Official police version of the story. Also known as the CNN version.
- - NY Times story. Includes video of police statement about two suspects.
Video from KSDK explaining that while police have body cams, they do not have to turn it on unless they really, really want to: