- A viral video shows a mysterious man in all black with an umbrella and a pink gas mask breaking out windows at a Minneapolis Auto Zone on Wednesday
- Screenshots of a conversation went viral on Thursday claiming the man is Saint Paul police officer Jacob Pederson
- The Saint Paul police department has made a statement disputing the claim on their Facebook page
The Saint Paul Police Department is disputing a viral social media claim that one of their officers, Jacob Pederson, was caught on camera breaking out windows at a Minneapolis Auto Zone Wednesday shortly before it was lit on fire.
A viral video shows a mysterious man in all black with an umbrella and pink gas mask smashing windows at the Auto Zone just before it was lit on fire on Wednesday evening. A protester confronted the man, who became hostile and quickly walked away while being asked if he was a cop.
On Thursday evening the Twitter account @GypsyEyedBeauty tweeted out a series of screenshots that claimed the man is Pederson. The caption read, “Here are screenshots from his ex wife confirming this is him, along with his photo.”
In the messages, the alleged ex-wife wrote, “I’m 90% sure. Voice walk everything.” The other person named “Megan” agrees then asks, “Do you recognize any of the gear?” The ex-wife responds, “The gas Mask.”
In the last screenshot, the ex-wife claims Pederson’s partner was working the fires. She goes on to write, “That’s my gas mask. THE GLOVES TOO. HOLY SHIT MEAN IM SHAKING.”
An image showing a picture comparison of Pederson and the mysterious man has also taken a life of its own on social media.
The SPPD has disputed the viral claim in a statement and on the department’s Facebook page. Public information officer Steve Linders told Heavy it was a “false social media post.” Below is the full statement sent to Heavy.
We are aware of the social media post that erroneously identifies one of our officers as the person caught on video breaking windows in Minneapolis. We want to be perfectly clear about this: The person in the video is not our officer.
Steve Linders Via Heavy
Our officer has been working hard, serving his community, keeping people and property safe, and protecting the right to peacefully assemble. It’s unfortunate that people would post and share this untrue information, adding more confusion to an already painful time in our community.
On Thursday night, the SPPD made a Facebook post titled “Rumor control” that echoed its statement to Heavy. “We’re aware of the social media post that erroneously identifies one of our officers as the person caught on video breaking windows in Minneapolis.” The post goes on to say, “We looked into it. It’s false. So we want to be clear about this: This person in the video is not our officer.”
The SPPD’s claim was not taken well by social media users aware of agitators and police plants within crowds in past protests. One notable incident in Standing Rock involved Kyle Thompson, the former program manager for Leighton Security Services. During the “No DAPL” protests, Thompson was caught by Water Protector security driving towards a heavy protest area dressed to match protesters with his tattoos covered. One of the security guards noticed Thompson was armed as he sped towards protesters, which prompted him to alert other security guards in the area.
Security managed to stop Thompson, at which point he exited his vehicle with his rifle. After a tense confrontation, Thompson was eventually taken into custody. After he was detained, a security badge and insurance papers for Leighton Security were found inside the vehicle he was driving. It is still not clear what Thompson’s intentions were if he had reached the protest dressed as a Water Protector.
After the Auto Zone was lit on fire a chain of massive fires spread across the city in protest of the lack of action following the murder of George Floyd. The four officers involved in Floyd’s murder have been fired, but protesters are demanding all four be arrested and charged. For the last three days, the Minneapolis Police Department has been protecting Derek Chauvin’s home instead of arresting him, which has only fueled outrage in the community. Chauvin was the officer seen digging his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes while two other officers restrained him and Officer Tou Thao kept witnesses from helping.