The Corner

Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Now in Charge of Ferguson Situation Criticizes Police’s Decision to Release Robbery Video

Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol criticized Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson’s decision to release information on Friday that connected Michael Brown to a strong-arm robbery that occurred the day he was killed.

“I can tell you that I was not in agreement with that [the decision to release the information],” Johnson told NRO on Friday night. “I didn’t think it was the timing or it really had any reflection on what is going on here and what the question and what the protest was about today.”

Missouri governor Jay Nixon sent the highway patrol, led by Johnson, to calm things down in Ferguson on Thursday, and since that time Johnson has been lauded as a “star” and a “hero.” Johnson says he talked to Jackson about his concerns — nothing that he had no prior knowledge of what was in the packet of information released by police — and says Jackson responded apologetically and said it wouldn’t happen again.

Johnson says that he has not yet had the chance to review the packet distributed by police, but will do so when he has the chance. “But really no matter what my assessment is of that packet, I will still tell you that that packet and that information shouldn’t have been disseminated today [Friday], from my viewpoint,” he says.

St. Louis County Police chief Jon Belmar tells me that, before Jackson decided to release the information, he heard arguments for and against releasing the information. “I felt it was perhaps appropriate for a grand jury to review at that point in time, but I didn’t think it would be constructive prior to that,” Belmar says. “I understand the arguments, but at the end of the day, I, at this point in time, I’m not sure that it [the release] necessarily is helpful. And I understand the decision the chief made and I understand the difficult position he’s in.”


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