Ferguson Officer Admits Calling Memorial ‘A Piece of Trash’

FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – Police public information officer Tim Zoll is on unpaid leave after the city says he did make degrading comments about a memorial to Michael Brown, despite his early denials.

The makeshift memorial was destroyed when a car ran over it on Christmas night. The next day, Zoll told KMOX News that the department had no plans to investigate because the flowers, teddy bears and other items were in the middle of the street.

But it was his statement to the Washington Post which drew the ire of many. He was quoted as saying: “…a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?”

In a follow-up phone call, Zoll told KMOX News that the paper had misquoted and misunderstood him.

In a statement released Saturday night, Ferguson officials say that upon being confronted with the results of their investigation, Zoll admitted that he did in fact make the remarks and that he misled his superiors and the media, including KMOX, when asked about the contents of the interview.

According to the release, Zoll has been placed on unpaid leave, effective immediately, while disciplinary proceedings begin.

A memorial to Michael Brown on Canfield Dr. after it was rebuilt on Dec. 26, 2014. (Photo: Brett Blume/KMOX)

A memorial to Michael Brown on Canfield Dr. after it was rebuilt on Dec. 26, 2014. (Photo: Brett Blume/KMOX)

The city’s statement is as follows:

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.

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