Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond has launched a new smoke screen media campaign with the clear intent of exploiting a recent arrest to distract the people from the truth about Deputy Jordan Schutte. Yesterday, local media outlets ran a story about a local black man that has been charged with allegedly following one of Bond's deputies from his home in Smithton, Missouri and threatened him in front of his child. The alleged incident took place back in June the week after Hannah Fizer was murdered, but only now do they say an arrest has been made and the news coverage pushes the false narrative that none of the suspects whose names have been shared on social media are in fact the shooter without requiring Bond to specifically deny that Schutte is the shooter.
The week after Hannah Fizer was killed, Sheriff Bond released a letter to the media (see PDF icon above article) in which he stated "One of my deputies, not involved whatsoever with the shooting or its investigation, has been singled out and targeted for harassment, stalking, and has been threatened with serious assault." We investigated the deputy whose name was circulating at the time, but eventually concluded that it was most likely not him (https://copblaster.com/blast/25797/pettis-county-sheriff-kevin-c-bond-refuses-to-comply-with-foia). People saw a video that showed a red car parked behind Hannah's car after the shooting and wrongfully concluded that it must be the shooter's car because one deputy allegedly owns a red car. Turns out that car most likely belongs to the coroner. We later found an earlier video that showed just one silver/gray SUV parked behind Hannah right after the the shooting before the red car arrived (https://copblaster.com/blast/25799/pettis-county-sheriffs-office-staff-roster-sedalia-state-police). According to public records, the deputy whose name was circulating lives in Smithton where Wayne Gravitt is accused of threatening an off duty deputy after tailing him back in June. Jordan Schutte, the deputy whose been named by Hannah's father with "99.9%" certainty has no public records tying him to Smithton. For these reasons we believe that Gravitt is not accused of doing anything to Jordan Schutte.
The article goes on to say that the names and photographs of several deputies that had nothing to do with the shooting were also shared online. We are aware of several names of suspects that members of the public shared with us online, but we never posted them as suspects because there was no convincing evidence that any one of them were in fact the shooter. For example, one tipster claimed he knew that a certain deputy was the only one hired in 2007 and he knew that because he was working for that deputy's father at the time, but there was no evidence supporting that allegation and we thought that the tipster might have just been mad at his former boss. We did mention the name of the first deputy that was circulating on social media as a rumor in one comment, the comment said something to the effect of "John Doe's name is circulating on social media but we don't know if it is true or not." We then posted a follow up comment saying that Hannah's brother did not think that name was accurate and later we stated that we did not think it was right person.
Whenever you are soliciting tips from the public for an independent investigation you are likely to end up with a suspects list. Whenever there is a suspects list and the crime was clearly committed by just one person, you are going to have names on the list that turn out to be innocent. That is why it is important to remove names as you rule people out and for the public to do all they can to help rule people out. It is a shotgun approach similar to what the police do when soliciting tips from the public, but when you use police tactics on the police they typically cry foul and in the process expose their hypocrisy. We posted the names and addresses of every deputy whose name was known to us at one time hoping that someone might recognize the suspect vehicle at one of those locations. We also said that one of the people on that list was the shooter, but we did not know which one. We were very clear about that. Eventually, Hannah's father gathered enough information to name the shooter with "99.9%" certainty after several weeks of inaction on the part of law enforcement. That name was Jordan Schutte, and Schutte was on the suspects list that we had. Now that suspects list only has one name and that name is Jordan Schutte (https://copblaster.com/blast/25835/did-pettis-county-deputy-jordan-schutte-shoot-hannah-fizer).
At no point in the story does Kevin Bond specifically deny that Schutte is the shooter. He simply says that the deputy who was followed and others named had nothing to do with it. Those facts do not change the fact that the name of the shooter is now known and Bond has yet to deny that. The story is clearly meant to give people the impression that none of the people named online are in fact the shooter without specifically denying that Schutte is the shooter. Some people think that if any one name is incorrect that the entire list is garbage. That is not true and it defies the purpose of having a suspect list and soliciting the public's help with narrowing it down. When the police are looking for a suspect they knock on every door they think might lead them in the right direction, but if you ask people to survey every place an answer might be the police cry foul if they are the ones under investigation. If the investigation requires doing reconnaissance work at their homes, then they hide behind whoever they live with and try to focus the argument entirely on whether or not their spouses or offspring might feel intimidated. The police never consider such things when they knock on people's doors, but if their personal addresses are posted they cry about it.
In response to this, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has introduced an unconstitutional ordinance that would prohibit sharing personal information about public servants online, but even if that is passed it would require intent to harass or intimidate. Intent to protest, investigate, and assist with service of process would still be legitimate reasons to post addresses of public servants. The federal government already has such a law, but it only bans making such information publicly available. Usually when such information is shared online it comes from records that the government itself made publicly available, so that is always a defense to charges brought under that statute. The proposed Kansas City ordinance would go a step further and prohibit sharing the information whether or not it was already publicly available, so if someone saw an address on this website that was posted for the purpose of assisting protesters find the location of a protest or help people investigate something relevant to it, they could be criminally charged if the person the link is about claims emotional distress as the result of that intentional act. Then it would be up to the defendant to prove they shared it for a legitimate reason because despite what the law says people are really guilty until proven innocent in this country.
In Brayshaw v. City of Tallahassee, Fla., 709 F. Supp. 2d 1244 (N.D. Fla. 2010) (https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/2541111/brayshaw-v-city-of-tallahassee-fla/) the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida struck down a nearly identical ordinance. The City of Tallahassee ordinance was called "Publishing name and address of law enforcement officer" and it read as follows:
"Any person who shall maliciously, with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law or with the intent to intimidate, hinder, or interrupt any law enforcement officer in the legal performance of his or her duties, publish or disseminate the residence address or telephone number of any law enforcement officer while designating the officer as such, without authorization of the agency which employs the officer, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083."
The court held that the ordinance was facially unlawful. A facial challenge means that you can tell just by reading the statute that it is unlawful without further inquiry. "Because the speech at issue is constitutionally protected" the court struck down the ordinance. The ordinance was a direct challenge to the now defunct website Rate My Cop where users had been posting addresses of police officers. Rate My Cop was one of our inspirations and we even tried to buy the domain at one point but were not allowed to bid due to last minute issues with the auction website (https://copblaster.com/blast/3284/ratemycop-com-acquisition-failed-thanks-to-dropcatch-com-scams).