Over 52 police officers from the Cincinnati Police Department are finding their personal information released to the public following a malevolent data breach by hacktivist group Anonymous Anon Verdict.
According to Cincinnati, the breach is an alleged act of protest following the police shooting of 37 year old Paul Gaston, who was shot after pulling an airsoft gun when police attempted to detain him.
Cincinnati police Lt. Steve Saunders said that the department is investigating the situation to assess the risk to officers, establish if there has been a breach of their systems and find who is responsible. Despite the inconvenience of the breach all the information released is likely to have been obtained through means available to the general public on the Internet, such as social media and public records sources.
In a 3-minute video posted to YouTube, the group states the so-called “data dump” was in direct response to the Gaston shooting.
The personal data leaked with the video included names, ages, street addresses, email addresses and social media accounts of the officers, including the names and addresses of many of the officers’ family members.
A link posted by Anon Verdict to the data was not working as of Monday morning. The URL notice stated that the link was removed, be it by the group or the hosting site.
While it is unclear if Anon Verdict is associated with the hacking group known as Anonymous that has been blamed for national government and corporate data breaches, none of the most popular Anonymous social accounts were laying claim to the breach and subsequent dissemination thus far.
In the video, the group compared the shooting of Gaston, a black man who police said was reaching for a gun that was later found to be an Airsoft gun, to the Mount Healthy police encounter with Christopher Laugle, a white man the day before. It’s a comparison that has been made by others, including New York Daily News writer Shaun King and Counter Current News, a blog with a large social media presence. King’s column argued that the two incidents revealed police “double standards faced by black men and white men.”
Attached to the 3-minute video released by Anon Verdict was the following description/statement:
“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 February 17th. 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 to 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 officer’s 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.”
Despite Anon Verdict’s claims, authorities state that Laugle pointed a toy gun at officers, which led to him being shot with a Taser and arrested. Mount Healthy Police Chief Vince Demasi told
The Enquirer last week that the incidents in Mount Healthy and in Cincinnati were dramatically different as well as handled by separate departments.
Cincinnati PD was not available for comment at this time.