St. Louis TV Station Reports: A Kansas City police officer is being investigated for his posts on social media, one of which claimed a photo of an Oregon murder suspect was Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was shot at least six times by a police officer in Ferguson earlier this month.
The photo in question shows Jodah Cain with a wad of cash in his mouth and a gun in his hand. Cain and his cousin were arrested in 2013 in the death of Cain’s great-grandmother.
At some point last week, a photo of Cain began circulating on Facebook and Twitter, with many people claiming the teen in the photo to be Brown.
Kansas City Police Department Officer Marc Catron posted the photo of Cain to his Facebook page and wrote, “I’m sure young Michael Brown is innocent and just misunderstood. I’m sure he is a pillar of the Ferguson community.”
Catron also spoke about the violence that has rocked Ferguson over the past week since a police officer shot the unarmed teen.
“Remember how white people rioted after OJ’s acquittal? Me neither,” said a Facebook post that Catron shared on his own page.
Brian Berger, a Portland-based media consultant who focuses on social media, said the permanent nature of social media posts is something that all social media users need to keep in mind.
“Social media is very much like a game of telephone. Once something is out there, whether it’s factually correct or incorrect, people tend to look at it as The Bible. And once something is out there, it snowballs,” he said.
That was the case for Catron, whose comments many found to be insensitive and racist.
“Right now, with all the tension going on in Ferguson , I feel like the pictures were demeaning and judgmental (and) very one-sided,” said Sarah Jackson, who reported the officer’s Facebook post.
A spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department said this is a personnel issue that will be addressed with the officer. The department also provided KCTV, Portland’s sister station in Kansas City, a copy of the department’s eight-page social media policy.
It’s unclear who first posted the photo of Cain, who has family in the Kansas City area, and made the mistake to link it to Ferguson on social media.