ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - Documents released Tuesday show St. Louis County Police wanted the National Guard to protect the Canfield Green Apartments the night looters burned Ferguson businesses and buildings.
After an open records request, hundreds of pages of documents were finally released by Governor Nixon`s office. Much of it contains information reported exclusively by FOX 2`s Chris Hayes, days after the riots. Now we re-examine why Ferguson was left unprotected.
Here`s a breakdown of the National Guardsmen, as we first reported in December. The Guardsmen were in place the Saturday before the Grand Jury decision.
About 700 soldiers were scheduled to work decision night. Another 700 were scheduled to work the next shift and an additional 300 were part of special force called QRF, which stands for Quick Reaction Force.
On the ground around the St. Louis area on the night of November 25th, we could see a heavy National Guard presence in surprisingly quiet Clayton, but no sign of soldiers in North County.
At 10:54 pm, that night, I contacted Governor Jay Nixon`s office, asking `Can we get an answer ASAP as to why the National Guard was not deployed to Ferguson?`
We received no answer. We were not the only ones asking the Governor on November 25th. We`ve learned about political leaders and law enforcement representatives who asked the same question, all while firefighters in North County had to back away from blazes because of gunfire.
It was a different picture than one projected by the Governor November 11th. During a news conference he said adamantly, 'The businesses and buildings in this region will be protected.'
When it didn`t happen, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles once again described the broken promise. During a live interview on FOX 2 he said, `I assumed (Guardsmen) would be nearby and they would be readily mobilized if needed.`
Later on Tuesday November 25th, Governor Jay Nixon appeared at a news conference saying, `Like I said before, we had 700 guardsmen in the region.`
He said he would increase the force to 2,200. We now know that force was already here.
On Thanksgiving Day, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told FOX 2 it was the original plan to activate more Guardsmen. He said, `I was informed we were going to have National Guard down here like we do now and that certain businesses, public facilities, buildings and so forth were going to be also protected. The Guard was going to be standing up there as well.`
Jackson added, `I was informed of the change in plans around November 6th.`
That was the week some news outlets reported Jackson would resign. He did not. I asked the Governor, during the November 25th news conference, if that was the reason for the decision to leave Ferguson unprotected. I asked, `Was your failure to deploy National Guard promptly, specifically to Ferguson, political payback for Chief Jackson remaining?`
Governor Nixon answered, `No. As I said before, we had about 700 Guardsmen in a hundred locations in the City and County last night.`
Yet another 1,500 remained waiting in the St. Louis area, but not called until after 1 am Tuesday morning.
Then the Governor stopped talking. I asked his office for more answers, even sending a specific question about what Unified Command asked for in preparation for the night of the Grand Jury announcement. His spokesman wrote back, `Chris, we`re going to decline to respond and to the interview request.`
A few days later, on December 4th 2014, we tracked down the Governor in Rolla. I asked, 'What`s the answer to the yes or no question, did St. Louis County`s Police Chief ask for North County to be protected?'
Governor Nixon responded, 'Well certainly we all worked together to make sure we were working on the dual pillars.'
Hayes followed up, 'So then why did Rapid Response sit and watch businesses burn?'
Governor: 'Well as I said before the plan that night was to make sure we had officers out there.'
Hayes: 'But they weren`t out there.'
Governor: 'There were 700, yes they were.'
Hayes: 'But there were 1500 sitting and waiting. 700 out on the streets and 1500 waiting for a call.'
Governor: 'There were 700 assigned that night, others came later as the night went on.'
Not until 1am November 25th- nearly two hours after Fox 2 asked the Governor`s office - 'Where`s the guard in North County?'
I asked the Governor, `'..like they were in Clayton, why not have them in North County like... it sounds like you`re saying the St. Louis County Police Chief did ask for that presence.'
Governor: 'No, what I`m saying is the plan was that the law enforcement officers who have been trained would be out on the front lines. You didn`t want to have a Kent State situation. You certainly didn`t want to have a situation where Guardsmen who had only been there a few hours, who had not been used to the very kinetic atmosphere of people throwing things, screaming things at the very front tip of that spear. That was the plan. I think it has prevented loss of life.'
Almost 80 days after our original report, a Captain from the National Guard claimed our numbers were off. The Captain wrote "Approximately 1,900 Guardsmen were on duty in the St. Louis city/county area on November 24th." The Captain added that the Governor later brought more Guardsmen to the area, bringing the total to 2,200.
Follow Chris Hayes on Twitter @ChrisHayesTV