Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said today he was astounded by some of the images that came out of Ferguson depicting what he described as an “over-militarization” of the police force.
“I, all of us were thunderstruck by the pictures we saw,” Nixon told Martha Raddatz in an interview in Ferguson. “I mean, the over-militarization, the MRAPs rolling in, the guns pointed at kids in the street. All of that I think instead of ratcheting down brought emotion up.”
But Nixon rejected responsibility for failing to quell the ongoing unrest in Ferguson.
“I’ve been here almost every day,” he said. “The bottom line: we’ve been focused on meeting with groups, meeting with the parents, making sure that we were set up and then taking the unprecedented action on Wednesday to replace and to bring in the Highway Patrol.”
Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson on Saturday and imposed a curfew following days of protests that erupted after unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, who was identified Friday as Darren Wilson.
During his interview on “This Week,” the governor revealed that the state was caught off-guard by the Ferguson Police Department’s decision to release surveillance video of Brown during an alleged store robbery on the same day they named the officer responsible for his death.
“We were unaware that they were going to release it and we certainly were not happy with that being released. Especially in the way that it was it appeared to, you know, cast dispersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street,” Nixon said.
The security footage, which police said showed Brown allegedly committing a robbery at a convenience store just minutes before his death, reignited civil unrest in the town over the weekend. The Police Department claims that they were obligated to release the tape because of requests made by journalists under Missouri’s “Sunshine,” or freedom-of-information law, despite the Department of Justice and federal investigators opposing its release.
An attorney for the Brown family, Anthony Gray, who also appeared on “This Week,” said the family was disturbed by the release of the surveillance video.
“Well, they first of all they were very appalled by it,” Gray said. “They saw it for the first time, at least a glimpse of it, on nationwide TV. They had requested an opportunity through the attorneys to see any video footage before it was released. That request obviously was not honored. So quite naturally, the reaction was very, on the part of the family, they were very disturbed by it. And I would just point out that no one from the family was given the opportunity to even authenticate that that was actually Mike Brown Jr. in the video.
“There’s no reason not to believe that it’s him but much like when you identify somebody who is deceased, you have a family member that come in and make a positive ID. And they have not had an opportunity to do that,” Gray added.
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