CINCINNATI - Cincinnati police are on edge after a hacktivist group released the home addresses of dozens of officers – including Chief Eliot Isaac – and their family members and threatened more retaliation over a deadly officer-involved shooting last week.
In a YouTube video, a group identifying itself as Anonymous Anon Verdict said it was protesting the shooting death of Paul Gaston, who was black, by Cincinnati police on the same day Mount Healthy police used a stun gun to subdue a white man, Christopher Laugle.
WARNING: The YouTube video contains images of the fatal shooting.
Both men had toy guns. The group accused Cincinnati police of killing Gaston because of his race.
A person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and speaking in an electronic voice threatened to release personal information about more Cincinnati police officers as well as officers anywhere in the United States who "murder a human being when (they) have other choices of containing the suspect available."
"We will data dump as many officers as we see fit for each situation," the character said.
The data was removed from the website Pastebin.com within hours – either by website administrators or the group itself - but the point was made.
"When their goal is to see us angry, to see us upset, that's absolutely the last thing I am prepared to give them," said Sgt. Dan Hils, Cincinnati FOP president. "I believe these folks are very, very much on the fringe of our community, our society, and as fringe people, they're going to say fringe things. The majority of the community, the majority of the people, are behind the police."
Mayor John Cranley attacked Anonymous Anon Verdict and defended the police.
"These are people who don't have any regard for the emotional well-being of our police officers who have families, spouses and kids and so it's extremely abusive emotionally to our officers," said Cranley. "But I also believe that our officers and police department and our city is big enough to not let this stop us from doing our job."
Police Lt. Steve Saunders said the department was trying to determine whether there was a systems breach. He said the information could have been obtained through public records and social media.
Transcript of Anonymous Anon Verdict's message
"Greetings, World, we are Anonymous Anon Verdict. The following clip you are about to see are three separate cell phone clips of Cincinnati Police Department murdering a black man named Paul Gaston while he held his hands up on Feb. 17.
"With the evidence provided, it is quite obvious that he was complying and had his hands in the air. Just a day before this shooting in the Cincinnati metropolitan area this man was accused of pointing this replica at police. He lived.
"But John Crawford, Tamir Rice, and now Paul Gaston didn't. How does one man point a fake pistol at a cop and live while another man doesn't, but is killed execution style? For far too long we have sat idle by letting the gang known as the Thin Blue Line murder citizens of United States without allowing them due process. Well, we have a message to not only the Cincinnati police department but to every law enforcement officer: When you murder a human being when you have other choices of containing your suspect available, we will make your officers' information public record. We will data dump as many officers as we see fit for each situation. We will not only release the officer who murdered the citizens information but we will release those that have stood by in the department that did not speak up.
"We have lost more lives to the Thin Blue Line than we have lost in the Afghanistan war. Thin Blue Line, your game is over. You lost. While we release your officers' information, we will hold no responsibility of the actions of those that see the information…
"Cincinnati police department, you should have expected this."