Who are the Atlanta Police officers that shot and killed Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot on June 13, 2020? The killing was caught on camera, former Police Chief Erika Shields resigned over it, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called the shooting unjustified, but the names of the officers remain a secret. This just the latest in a string of brutality incidents where police and the media have protected the identities of the perpetrators. This practice needs to stop.
The same pattern was observed in the St. Louis suburb of Florissant this past week (https://copblaster.com/blast/25767/florissant-police-detective-joshua-smith-suspected-in-vehicle-assault) when an officer was caught on tape running someone over and was suspended his name was not released. We had to find out who he was the hard way. The media confirmed that they knew the identity of the officer after we told them, but still did not publish his name. Only after the police announced his firing and released his name did the media print his name. The following excerpts from a Twitter thread located at https://twitter.com/alexiszotos/status/1270865590522187777 show one reporter explaining why they waited so long to name a cop caught on camera hitting a black man with an unmarked SUV:
Cop Blaster: "I told you his name Joshua Smith days ago"
Alexis Zotos: "I know you did. But we have a protocol on how we identify people."
Cop Blaster: "Well, that 'protocol' seems to do more to protect bad cops than hold them accountable. This seems to be a broader problem with mainstream news in general. Whenever I try to find out who suspended officers are I normally can't find that info until they are fired if then."
Alexis Zotos: "Its the same protocol we do in any investigation. We don't name suspects until they've been charged."
Cop Blaster: "That may be, but the burned of proof needed to suspend a cop is higher than that needed to charge someone with a crime. When the suspended officers are caught on tape the public is not served by keeping their names secret. The news should hold them to higher standards."
That was the end of our public discussion with KMOV reporter Alexis Zotos. We also talked to KMOV on Facebook and they said, "We know who the officer is. Thanks for reaching out." They still did not release his name until after the police did. This patterns repeats itself all over America whenever police officers like the ones that killed Rayshard Brooks are caught on tape doing what they do. At first they call them "officers," then they call them the "suspended officers," and then maybe they will say something like "officer John Doe was fired." The only real way to guarantee that their names will be released is if they are arrested. Like we told Alexis Zotos and KMOV, this practices does "more to protect bad cops than hold them accountable."
The news should do an in depth investigation into every case like this and name the officers right away. When officers are named that often gives their other victims the motivation they need to speak out. Until then we will do all we can to identify these officers using other means. The first means we tried was cleaning up the footage in an effort to read their name tags, but that failed. Now we need to hear from people close to them. Their co-workers, neighbors, and friends know who they care. Please come forward.