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Ferguson Grand Jury Cleared Of Misconduct After "Hacked" Tweet

Officials in St. Louis County said Thursday that someone hacked a Twitter account and tweeted about the grand jury investigation into Michael Brown's death.

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The grand jury investigating the death of Michael Brown hasn't been leaking information, the prosecutor overseeing the process insisted Thursday.

St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch made the statement in a letter released Thursday, saying that "no information or evidence has been released by the grand jury."

The letter was a response to a controversy that erupted earlier this month when it appeared that someone on the grand jury — which is supposed to conduct its investigation entirely behind closed doors — was talking to a Twitter user going by the name Susan Nichols. In a tweet that was quickly deleted, Nichols suggested officer Darren Wilson wouldn't face charges for killing Brown.

Within seconds of posting this, her friends told her to delete it and she did. It was screenshotted first.

Shaun King@ShaunKingFollow

Within seconds of posting this, her friends told her to delete it and she did. It was screenshotted first.

1:49 PM - 01 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Later, other would-be exclusive information trickled out in several news stories, including ones published by the New York Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

McCulloch's letter argues that none of the information became public via leaks from the grand jury.

"As exasperating as I and others find the piecemeal release of information and documents," he wrote, "no information or evidence has been released by the grand jury, any individual juror or anyone associated with the grand jury."

McCulloch claims the Twitter account at the heart of the controversy was hacked.

McCulloch's letter mentions the tweet about the grand jury, but says it was the result of a hack — a claim the account's owner made at the time.

"An investigation revealed that the account had, indeed, been hacked and the origin/author of the tweet is unknown," McCulloch wrote. "The owner of the account has no connection with any member of the grand jury."

Still, it's not entirely clear how investigators figured out the tweet was the product of a hack.

Neither McCulloch nor Twitter immediately responded to BuzzFeed News' request for comment Thursday evening. However, a spokesman for McCulloch told the Los Angeles Times that the tweet "never came from her computer" and that "we can't prove that it came from her."

Of course, there are other ways to tweet — most obviously mobile phones but also tablets, other people's computers, etc. — but McCulloch's spokesman said the tweet was deleted before investigators could get a subpoena.

The Twitter account also seemingly still exists under Nichols' name but with a changed handle, and has tweeted comments about Ferguson through the beginning of October:

Wearing my I am Darren Wilson Bracelet tonight.. #Ferguson

Susan Nichols@smde7763Follow

Wearing my I am Darren Wilson Bracelet tonight.. #Ferguson

10:38 PM - 29 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

What Hong Kong doesn't realize is how Ghetto #Ferguson really is.

Susan Nichols@smde7763Follow

What Hong Kong doesn't realize is how Ghetto #Ferguson really is.

6:37 AM - 29 Sep 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

@jaechick Becaue, they are not allowed to disclose anything. The investigation is in the hands of a Grand Jury. #Ferguson

Susan Nichols@smde7763Follow

@jaechick Becaue, they are not allowed to disclose anything. The investigation is in the hands of a Grand Jury. #Ferguson

6:28 AM - 01 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The grand jury determining whether Wilson should face charges has no deadline, though it is currently expected to finish sometime in November.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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