ST. LOUIS — Internet hacking group “Anonymous” released Thursday morning on Twitter the alleged name of the Ferguson police officer they claim fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last weekend.
The group then warned that they will first release the officer’s photo, then his address, and finally “full documents” within hours if the St. Louis County Police Department does not respond.
And while CBS St. Louis will not identify the person named by Anonymous until it is confirmed by officials, NewsOne will: The police officer allegedly responsible for Michael Brown’s death is Bryan P. Willman.*
Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Wednesday that they will not release the officer’s name due to threats, despite cyber-attacks on the city’s website.
Jackson said someone burrowed into the website and shut it down for much of Monday, two days after Brown was killed. The death has stoked racial tension, protests, and a night of looting, along with calls for police to release the officer’s name so his background can be reviewed.
Anonymous had pledged to create mischief with Ferguson’s city computers if the name wasn’t released, and representatives of the group have taken credit for the incident. But Jackson said releasing the information could endanger the officer, who has received numerous death threats.
Jackson said he was unaware whether the hackers obtained any personal information about police officers from the website. Ferguson, a predominantly Black city of roughly 21,000 residents, is about 10 miles northwest of St. Louis.
Investigators have released few details, saying only that a scuffle unfolded after the officer asked Brown and another man to get out of the street, and that the officer’s weapon fired at some point inside a patrol car. Witnesses say Brown had his hands raised when the officer repeatedly shot him.
“We have the right to know, and the family has the right to know who murdered their son,” said Sahari Gutierrez, a 27-year-old Ferguson legal assistant.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon cited the “worsening situation” in Ferguson in saying he would be in the area Thursday. He asked community members to be patient and calm while the investigation proceeds and urged law enforcement agencies to “keep the peace and respect the rights of residents and the press.”
Jackson said the investigation remains weeks away from completion.
Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car.
The struggle then allegedly spilled on to the street, where Brown was shot multiple times. In their initial news conference about the shooting, police didn’t specify whether Brown was the person who scuffled with the officer in the car and have refused to clarify their account.
Jackson said Wednesday that the officer involved sustained swelling facial injuries.
Dorian Johnson, who says he was with Brown when the shooting happened, has told a much different story. He has told media outlets that the officer ordered them out of the street, then tried to open his door so close to the men that it “ricocheted” back, apparently upsetting the officer.
Johnson says the officer grabbed his friend’s neck, then tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times. Johnson and another witness both say Brown was on the street with his hands raised when the officer fired at him repeatedly.
*Editor’s Note: The original AP report did not include the alleged officer’s name involved in Michael Brown’s killing. NewsOne added the above information.