A Ferguson, Mo., police spokesman who called the makeshift memorial to Michael Brown “a pile of trash in the middle of the street” has been placed on unpaid leave, according to Yahoo News.
According to the Washington Post, the memorial, which included cards, flowers, candles and stuffed animals, was in the middle of Canfield Drive, near the spot where Brown’s body had lain for about four hours after he was fatally shot Aug. 9 by Officer Darren Wilson. Witnesses say that on Christmas Day, a motorist intentionally drove over the memorial, destroying it.
After hearing of the incident, a Post reporter called the Ferguson Police Department to find out what charges, if any, might be applicable.
“I don’t know that a crime has occurred,” Timothy Zoll, the Ferguson police public information officer, told the Post. “But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”
Zoll later told television station CBS St. Louis that the Post had misquoted him. “Upon being confronted with the results of the Ferguson Police Department’s investigation regarding the remarks that were attributed to the Public Information Officer, the officer admitted to Department investigators that he did in fact make the remarks attributed to him, and that he misled his superiors when asked about the contents of the interview,” the city of Ferguson said in a statement Saturday, according to Yahoo News.
Zoll, who has been with the department for 12 years, is on unpaid leave pending “disciplinary proceedings,” Yahoo News reported.
“The City of Ferguson wants to emphasize that negative remarks about the Michael Brown memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department and are in direct contradiction to the efforts of City officials to relocate the memorial to a more secure location,” the statement continued, according to Yahoo News. “The Ferguson Police Department also wants to note that even after the officer’s initial denial of his statement, the Police Chief continued the investigation until the truth was discovered. The City of Ferguson and the Ferguson Police Department, in particular, are focused on creating a trusting relationship with the entire community and taking impactful steps to improve the effectiveness of the department.”
Once news got out that the memorial had been destroyed, residents quickly rebuilt it.