The Ferguson police department released reports today that said teenager Michael Brown was the "prime suspect" in a store robbery that occurred minutes before he was shot, a release the Brown family said was "intended to assassinate the character" of the slain teen.
The description of the alleged theft of $48.99 worth of cigars was included in a packet of police reports distributed by the Ferguson police department today when they identified Officer Darren Wilson as the cop who shot Brown. The packet of information gave a detailed description of the alleged theft and the suspect, but it included no details of Brown's confrontation with Wilson.
"Michael Brown’s family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piece meal information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight," the statement said.
"There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender," the statement said.
The statement was attributed to Brown's family and the family's legal team, which is headed by Benjamin Crump. The statement noted that the release included stills allegedly from the store's surveillance video showing a suspect looming over the store employee, adding that the department has declined "to release the photographs of the officer that executed him."
Anthony Rothert, the legal director for the Missouri branch of the ACLU, had sued Tuesday for the release of the incident report describing Brown's shooting.
"I think it's fair to say that releasing some records, but not releasing others when they're equally public record seems to be an intentional effort to distract the public," Rothert told ABC News. "They're hiding it for whatever reason ... That leaves the public to imagine why that's being hidden," he said.
"They've given us the wrong incident report," Rothert said.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon appeared to be surprised by the release of the robbery report.
“New facts are out ... those are not the full picture of everything," Nixon said. "They're pieces of information.”
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said he could not release the police report of Brown's shooting because the county police had taken control of that investigation.
He defended his release of the robbery reports said that he had no choice.
"I released the videotape to you because I had to. I’ve been sitting on it... but too many people put in (Freedom of Information) requests," Jackson told reporters today.
Among the 19 pages of reports in the police packet released today was a report written by the police officer who responded to the 911 call regarding the store robbery. That officer watched a store surveillance video of the theft. He also responded to a report of Wilson's fatal confrontation with Brown.
"It is worth mentioning that this incident (the store robbery) is related to another incident," the officer wrote. "In that incident Brown was fatally wounded... I responded to that scene and observed Brown. After viewing Brown and reviewing the video, I was able to confirm that Brown is the primary suspect in this incident."
The chief made clear, however, that Wilson's confrontation with Brown was not prompted by the report of the store's robbery. Jackson said his officer's contact with Brown began because Brown "was walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic."
Below is a moment by moment description of what happened on Aug. 9 according to reports by the Ferguson police department and statements made today by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson:
11:48 a.m. - Wilson was on a "sick call" where an ambulance had been summoned. Details of the sick call were not released.
11:51 a.m. - Police receive a 911 call from a convenience store on W. Florissant Avenue that reported "stealing in progress."
The officer's report said that the suspect identified throughout the report as Brown ordered several boxes of Swisher Sweet cigars. As the boxes were stacked on the counter, the suspect handed one of the boxes to his friend identified as Dorian Johnson. When the store employee asked to be paid, the suspect "reached across the counter and grabbed numerous packs of Swisher Sweets and turned to leave the store," the report states.
The employee came out from behind the counter and tried to lock the door and stop the suspect from leaving. The suspect "grabbed REDACTED by the shirt and forcefully pushed him back in to a display rack," the officer's report states. The suspect left the store, but returned "and advances on REDACTED. Brown towers over REDACTED appearing to intimidate him," the officer wrote.