The public information officer for the Ferguson, Missouri, police department has been placed on unpaid leave after his reply to a Washington Post reporter about a damaged Michael Brown memorial, KSDK-TV reported.
"I don't know that a crime has occurred," Officer Timothy Zoll said Friday in an interview with the Post. "But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?"
The memorial for Brown — the unarmed black 18-year-old fatally shot by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson — was damaged apparently after a vehicle ran over mementos early Friday morning, KSDK reported.
The memorial was rebuilt that same morning, the AP reported.
A Saturday evening statement from the City of Ferguson indicates the PIO admitted to making the remarks as well as misleading superiors after they asked about the content of the interview, KSDK noted.
Here's the full statement:
"FERGUSON, Mo., Dec. 27 – Earlier this week, the Public Information Officer for the City of Ferguson Police Department responded to an inquiry from a Washington Post reporter regarding the destruction of the Michael Brown memorial.
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 officer has been placed on unpaid leave, effective immediately, while disciplinary proceedings begin.
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 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."