Breaking News Emails
Hackers seeking to avenge the death of a man killed by Cincinnati cops claim they have collected the personal information of more than 50 police department employees — from the chief all the way down to the officers.
In a video posted Sunday on YouTube, a mask-wearing member of the group Anonymous Anon Verdict warned they would release the name, phone numbers and addresses of the officers as payback for last week's fatal shooting of Paul Gaston.
Cincinnati Police Lt. Steve Saunders told NBC News on Tuesday that the department is investigating the breach claim to see if private information was accessed by the group.
“As far as the anonymous video and an alleged data breach, we are not certain that anyone accessed any personal information other than what was available in the public domain," Saunders told NBC News. "We are investigating if an actual breach occurred and will take the necessary steps to address it if it is confirmed.”
A link shared by Anonymous Anon Verdict showed names, street addresses, ages, position titles, phone numbers and some social media accounts for various employees of the police department, including Chief Eliot Isaac.
The hack was prompted by the shooting of Gaston, 37, last Wednesday.
Gaston was driving erratically and crashed his car into a utility pole, police said. A 911 caller reporting the incident told cops Gaston dropped a gun and then picked it up.
When cops caught up to Gaston, they opened fire after he reached for a gun-like weapon in his pant waistband. However, the weapon turned out to be an Airsoft pellet gun.
Cell phone video of the incident recorded by bystanders show Gaston appearing to reach into his waistband as he was confronted by officers. Officials also released a photo of Gaston's gun.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has defended the actions of police officers.
“It’s clear, based on my review of the video, the officers were justified in their actions,” he said.
Sgt. Dan Hils, president of the the local police union, told NBC affiliate WLWT that officials are a concerned over the potential leak.
"When their addresses are put out in the public, that's a concern," said Hils. "I know that we have a section working on that, to try to knock down whenever our addresses are put out in a public place like that and that's what the police administration is doing about this."
It was unclear if Anonymous Anon Verdict is affiliated with the better-known hacking group Anonymous.