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Ferguson police spokesman suspended after memorial comment

A rain-soaked memorial is shown September 10, 2014, at the location where teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson about a month ago earlier in Ferguson, Missouri.

Scott Olson, Getty Images

FERGUSON, Mo. - The Ferguson Police Department has suspended a spokesman after he referred to the Michael Brown memorial as "a pile of trash."

A statement that the city provided Saturday to CBS affiliate KMOV-TV in St. Louis didn't identify the officer who made the remark. The Washington Post attributed the comment to Officer Tim Zoll.

The memorial at the site of Brown's death was damaged last week after a car apparently hit it.

Zoll doesn't have a listed number and couldn't be reached Sunday by The Associated Press.

The city says the spokesman denied making the comment to his supervisors, but later admitted that he'd misled his bosses.

He has been placed on unpaid leave while "disciplinary proceedings" begin.

The City of Ferguson's statement said the "negative remarks about the memorial do not reflect the feelings of the Ferguson Police Department and are in direct contradiction to the efforts of city officials to relocate the memorial to a more secure location."

Protesters took to social media last week reacting to the way the Washington Post's story about the memorial quotes Zoll. It said:

"I don't know that a crime has occurred," Zoll said Friday. "But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?"

Zoll told KMOV that he was misquoted by the newspaper. He said that he told them that "if it was somebody from outside the area, they might not have even known what it was," meaning the driver may have mistaken the memorial for trash.