The spokesman for the Ferguson, Mo., police department has been placed on unpaid leave after calling the makeshift memorial to slain black teenager Michael Brown a "pile of trash in the middle of the street" after it was destroyed.
Timothy Zoll, the Ferguson police public information officer, told the Washington Post that he wasn't sure the destruction of the memorial on Christmas night amounted to a crime.
"I don't know that a crime has occurred," Zoll said, according to the paper. "But a pile of trash in the middle of the street? The Washington Post is making a call over this?"
When asked about the remarks, Zoll told KMOX-TV that the Post had misquoted him.
According to a statement by the City of Ferguson released Saturday, Zoll initially denied making the comments to his superiors, too.
"Upon being confronted with the results of the Ferguson Police Department’s investigation regarding the remarks that were attributed to the Public Information Officer, the officer admitted to Department investigators that he did in fact make the remarks attributed to him, and that he misled his superiors when asked about the contents of the interview," the statement read.
Zoll was placed on unpaid leave pending "disciplinary proceedings." According to city records obtained by Yahoo News, Zoll been with the department for 12 years and earns an annual salary of $50,960.
"The City of Ferguson wants to emphasize that negative remarks about the Michael Brown 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," the statement continued. "The Ferguson Police Department also wants to note that even after the officer’s initial denial of his statement; the Police Chief continued the investigation until the truth was discovered. The City of Ferguson and the Ferguson Police Department in particular, are focused on creating a trusting relationship with the entire community and taking impactful steps to improve the effectiveness of the department."
Meanwhile, residents have rebuilt the memorial on Canfield Drive near the site where Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in August.
— deray mckesson (@deray) December 26, 2014
— Justin (@jay_myles2) December 26, 2014
— Brett A. Blume (@brettblumekmox) December 26, 2014
Yahoo News' Jason Sickles contributed to this report.