US

Records: Police captain was praised and vilified for showing sympathy with Ferguson protesters

FILE - In this Aug, 16, 2014 file photo Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, center right, walks among people protesting the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Emails sent to top public-safety officials both criticizing and praising Johnson for appearing to sympathize with protesters illustrate one of the challenges that authorities could face after a grand jury decides whether to charge the police officer who killed Brown _ how to walk a fine line between providing public empathy and security. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

FILE - In this Aug, 16, 2014 file photo Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, center right, walks among people protesting the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Emails sent to top public-safety officials both criticizing and praising Johnson for appearing to sympathize with protesters illustrate one of the challenges that authorities could face after a grand jury decides whether to charge the police officer who killed Brown _ how to walk a fine line between providing public empathy and security. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)  (The Associated Press)

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show the Missouri Highway Patrol captain placed in charge of security in Ferguson after Michael Brown's death was both vilified and praised for appearing to sympathize with protesters.

Capt. Ron Johnson talked and marched with protesters, posed for photos and spoke at a rally about his empathy for Brown's family.

Johnson and his supervisors received numerous emails and phone calls from police officers across the nation complimenting his demeanor. Others were sharply critical of him.

The messages released through an open-records request offer a small window into the inner workings of Missouri law-enforcement agencies as they tried to quell the tensions that arose after the Aug. 9 shooting.

A grand jury is weighing whether to indict officer Darren Wilson in Brown's death.