The communications firm that released Thursday’s video apology by Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson is headed by a man who was convicted of reckless homicide and may have stocked his 27,000-strong Twitter following with 25,000 fake accounts, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Though Ferguson Mayor James Knowles says he was aware of Devin James Group founder Devin James’ background, a spokeswoman from the public agency paying for his services—the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership—told the paper she was not aware of James’ record and that the agency will no longer employ him. (James says others at the agency knew about his past.)
The Devin James Group posted Thomas Jackson’s video Thursday on Vimeo. The Dispatch reports that James was convicted of reckless homicide in Tennessee in 2006 for shooting and killing a man named Rodney Steward. James told the paper that he killed Steward in self-defense, though police testified in his trial that they could find no evidence that Steward was armed.
One of the campaigns James worked on recently, according to his company’s website, was a Kansas City initiative to “reduce shootings and homicides.”
The Dispatch also reported that 25,000 of James’ 27,000 Twitter followers were added in September. James denied to the paper that he had purchased spam followers, but many of his followers’ accounts do appear to be fakes:
James’ website’s claim that the Devin James Group employs 37 people may also be erroneous. At least one listed employee contacted by the Dispatch said he hasn’t worked for James in two years, and James told the paper he is “making a lot of updates” to the site.