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Internet vigilantes falsely link ex-officer to teens' attack

Posted at 9:45 PM, Jun 08, 2020

A retired police officer who was falsely accused by many Twitter users of accosting three young adults on a Maryland bicycle trail says he was saddened and scared by the barrage of hate directed against him.

John Damskey, a Montgomery County police officer for nearly 30 years, was one of at least two men whose names, photos and personal information were posted by internet vigilantes before police on Friday arrested and charged another man, 60-year-old Anthony Brennan III, with assaulting three people posting flyers protesting the death of George Floyd.

Millions of Twitter users have viewed a video of the encounter. Many falsely blamed Damskey, who says the experience has been surreal and terrifying.

In a widely-shared video, the man, allegedly Brennan, attacked three young adults last week who were posting flyers in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The video showed a man arguing and grabbing the flyers from one of the victims. The man then pushed his bicycle toward one of the victims who was filming the encounter.

“I’ve got a wife who is in tears. My mom is scared to death,” he told The Associated Press on Monday. “It’s sad. It’s scary. It’s something that I don’t ever want to go through again.”