FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOV.com) – The federal investigation into the Ferguson Police Department will be looking at how suspects are treated when being held in Ferguson hold-over cells or jails, according to Attorney General Eric Holder. One of the cases the investigators may be interested in was a reported by News 4 in 2006.
The report primarily focused on a photo that was taken on a cell phone showing a gun pointed directly at the camera lens. The cell phone belonged to Aaron Williams, a young African American man. Williams had been arrested by Ferguson police. He said police not only put the photo on his phone, they made it his screen saver.
“So every time I flip open my phone, the first thing I see is his gun,” said Williams in 2006. “The pictures had me thinking, basically, they wanted me dead. If I didn’t get out of Ferguson, that’s what’s gonna happen.”
A News 4 investigation showed the picture of the gun and pictures of detectives at the Ferguson police station were added to Williams' phone while he was in police custody.
"I'd say this is fair game for the Department of Justice," said SLU Law School professor when asked about the case.
McGraugh said the officers actions were unacceptable.
"Civil rights protect everybody, the fact that someone might have committed a crime or have criminal charges in the past is not relevant to the specific behavior of police," McGraugh said. "It's obvious from the video that the young man found the gun pointing at him every time he opened his phone very threatening. That's not funny, that's the stuff civil rights violations are made of."
When the report on Williams case first aired, Ferguson officials called the pictures bogus and said they would not investigate unless Williams filed an incident report. McGraugh said that approach also raises red flags about how seriously authorities are treating allegations against officers.