A photo purporting to be of Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager gunned down by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer August 9, that has been circulating on social media in the past week is in fact not Michael Brown at all. The photo gained widespread attention because it seemed to confirm the preconceived notions of some people that Brown was a so-called “thug” who somehow deserved his fate.
Ferguson police appeared to be sending that message, critics said, by releasing surveillance footage alleged to show Brown bullying a convenience store clerk and stealing cigarillos earlier on August 9.
The photo, which has been reposted numerous times, but most controversially by a Kansas City police officer, depicts an African-American teen pointing a gun at the camera while holding a stack of paper money in his mouth.
Conservative blogger Jim Hoft, of the Gateway Pundit site, posted the photo last Thursday, even though by then the information that the photo was not actually Michael Brown had become easily available.
The photo actually depicts 18-year-old Joda Cain, of Oregon, a suspect in the 2013 sledgehammer killing of his own great-grandmother. The other youth in the photo is identified as Micus Ward, who is accused of acting as Cain’s accomplice in the murder.
In Kansas City, Missouri, police officer Marc Catron is now facing a department review for posting the photo of Cain of his Facebook page, wrongly identifying the photo as depicting Michael Brown, and accompanying the photo with the sarcastic caption, “I’m sure young Michael Brown is innocent and just misunderstood. I’m sure he is a pillar of the Ferguson community.”
Apparently, there are a lot of people who share Catron’s views, and are equally unaware that the photo depicts Joda Cain, not Michael Brown, because Catron’s post was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.
Oddly, Joda Cain lived in the Kansas City area before relocating to Oregon to move in with the great-grandmother he is now accused of bludgeoning to death.
While Kansas City Police Department policies allow officers to share their political opinions on personal social media accounts, the policy also states that police department members should not post content that “could negatively affect the public or professional perception of the department.”
The Kansas City Police Department is now looking into Marc Catron’s Michael Brown Facebook posts to determine whether they violated that part of the policy.