Unarmed teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, but the circumstances leading up to his death remain unclear. Though Ferguson police have said that Wilson's face was injured in an altercation with Brown moments before the shooting, Wilson has yet to come forward and speak publicly.
On Tuesday, Chicago firefighter Kevin O'Grady shared a Facebook photo he claimed showed a injured Wilson in the hospital after the incident. As it turned out, the man pictured is not Darren Wilson, but that didn't stop the image from going viral.
(Story continues below.)
The man in the photo is actually motocross rider Jim McNeil, who died in a crash while practicing at the Texas Motor Speedway in 2011. The photo above was taken in 2006 after a motor accident at a friend’s house.
For the record, this is what the real Wilson looks like:
Despite the fact that these two men share barely a passing resemblance to one another, the bogus image posted by Kevin O'Grady had racked up nearly 50,000 shares by Thursday evening and had been circulated on Twitter and parts of the blogosphere. Some who re-shared the image seemed to take it as proof that Brown had attacked Wilson, thereby justifying the six shots that Wilson fired into Brown's body.
Here's what the sweet, innocent, gentle giant #MichaelBrown did to #DarrenWilson… pic.twitter.com/p75ZVR0JUo
— Mike Liberation (@mikeliberation) September 4, 2014
This isn’t even the first photo misidentification to come out of the Ferguson incident.
In August, Kansas City Police Department Officer Marc Catron posted an image on Facebook of a young man he claimed was Michael Brown. The man in the picture was pointing a gun at the camera and biting down on a wad of cash. Catron's caption for the image read, “I’m sure young Michael Brown is innocent and just misunderstood. I’m sure he is a pillar of the Ferguson community.”
That image ended up being of Joda Cain, a young Oregon man who is currently facing charges for killing his great-grandmother.