“They are breaking the law,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri.
Last week the Ferguson police department, after heavy pressure from journalists and civil liberties groups, finally released the incident report from the day officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed teen, Michael Brown.
Although they released the report, it was mostly blank. The report, obtained by Yahoo News through the Missouri Sunshine Law, lists only the date, time and location. Fields for the type of incident, name of the complainant, and a summary of the circumstances are redacted.
Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri tells Yahoo News that the Ferguson Police Department is breaking the law by refusing to comply with Missouri Sunshine Act law.
“I’ve never seen an incident report that didn’t contain a description of the incident, at least on some basic level,” said Don Tittle to Yahoo News, a veteran Texas civil and criminal attorney. “It makes you wonder if they don’t want to commit to a story.”
“It doesn’t tell us anything,” Rothert said. “We have to imagine what is there because it is all redacted.”
With all of the delays in releasing details, the heavy redactions and the attempts to smear Brown it becomes nearly impossible to believe anything the Ferguson police say.
Missouri’s Sunshine Law states that law enforcement agencies must promptly provide incident reports that include, “name of the victim and immediate facts and circumstances surrounding the initial report of a crime or incident.”
In Michael Brown’s case, Ferguson PD failed to comply with this law.
The state investigation is being conducted by the St. Louis County Police Department. A copy of their offense report does list Brown as the victim, but doesn’t give a summary of what happened.
The county’s report reveals that the larger metro department didn’t receive a call on the Aug. 9 shooting until 12:43 p.m., about 40 minutes after Brown was killed.
“So we have no idea what happened during those 43 minutes,” Rothert said. “It just adds to the complete lack of transparency about what happened.”
The press is left with more questions than answers from Ferguson.
Officer Darren Wilson is currently on paid leave and the subject of several investigations.
What the American people have witnessed in the last two weeks is an uncanny lack of transparency, level of corruption, and willingness of police to go to war with those who state their protest against these traits.
While the police state apologists will rationalize these aggressive and oppressive tactics, Ferguson has served to open the eyes of those who’ve previously been oblivious to the rising US Police State; and once you see the leviathan for what it is, you can never unsee it.