When a St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Ferguson cop Darren Wilson last week for the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, a curious posting went up on the "Justice for Kelly Thomas" Facebook page that same night. The page shared a photo of a black teen with a wad of cash in his mouth pointing a handgun captioned "Michael Brown."
"This photo is doing the rounds on social media," the Justice for Kelly Thomas page (of which his sister is an administrator) wrote. "Discuss…"
Only problem? It wasn't Brown.
But the Thomas family's potshots at Brown weren't over. Two days later Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, posted a Fox News video on his personal page with the caption "And heres [sic] little "Mikey Brown" as he is leaving the liquor store with his "5 finger discounted" smokes. All 290 pounds of him!
The moves have detractors calling him and his daughter insensitive at best, racist at worst, and tone-deaf to the issue of police brutality all around.
"That particular Justice for Kelly page is run by a guy in the UK," Thomas tells the Weekly. "My daughter is an administrator on it but she has no abilities to take things off of there. She didn't post it and she wouldn't do that."
The inaccurate image is in poor taste according to Thomas, who asked on Monday night that it be taken down. "That page is related to my son and it doesn't belong there," Thomas says. The family has had its own issues with media using a Fullerton mugshot of a scraggly bearded, matted hair man they've always insisted isn't Kelly Thomas.
As of this morning, the photo is still up.
As for his own posting, Thomas is unlikely to delete anything. "All I did was repost surveillance video of the liquor store," he explains. Ferguson police released the footage of the alleged cigarillo theft in August before disclosing the name of the officer who shot and killed Brown afterward. "He's a 290-pound thief, a bully, a criminal at that point. That's where I left it and yet now I'm a racist."
(Kelly Thomas, of course, was demonized as a criminal by Fullerton Police apologists because of past encounters with cops)
Thomas takes further issue with those who were quick to judge the shooting in racial terms and the rioting in Ferguson that followed. He challenges protesters who've blocked freeways in cities across the nation after the grand jury decision to prove that the Brown shooting was a racially motivated dirty kill, though Thomas himself admits to not knowing a whole lot about the particulars of the case, including Wilson's ability to bag his own gun as evidence.
And then there's Barack Obama. In an earlier Facebook rant, Thomas described the President's actions as "extreme racial behaviors" in the case. "The point is that he went so out of his way as a President when it is a local jurisdiction matter," he says. "In the case of Michael Brown [he] ordered the United States Attorney General to call the family and to start an investigation immediately. He didn't do that for a white man. He didn't do it for a Hispanic, an Asian, a Pacific Islander. He didn't do it for anybody else, but he does it for blacks."
The Obama comments had people calling Thomas a racist back then. "They don't even know me," he says. "They have no idea of the relationship I have with my next door neighbors. who are all black, by the way."
Thomas watched the ABC News interview with Wilson calling it "believable" but incomplete to make a full judgement. He acknowledges it's only one side of the story.
"We'll never know the truth. There's no actual video of the shooting. It's only the cop's word again," he says. "If that cop had on a digital audio recorder, everybody would have more facts."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2