Lt. Marlon Byrd, center, on CNN. Before his exoneration by the FBI, his name was dragged through the mud by local media. (Courtesy of Twitter user @Joe14850)

Ithaca, N.Y. — Ithaca police Lt. Marlon Byrd appeared on CNN’s New Day program this weekend to discuss race relations in Ferguson and draw from his personal experiences on the force.

Ferguson, Missouri, has been the site of civil unrest since an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a police officer on Aug. 9.

Lt. Byrd found himself at the center of a firestorm involving community-police relations a few years ago after The Ithaca Journal published a front-page story full of allegations tying Byrd to drug dealers.

Lt. Marlon Byrd, center, on CNN. Before his exoneration by the FBI, his name was dragged through the mud by local media. (Courtesy of Twitter user @Joe14850)

Those allegations stemmed from a civil lawsuit involving Officer Chris Miller, who is white. Byrd, who is black, was later fully cleared of the charges that he had assisted drug dealers by a federal investigation.

Byrd’s appearance on CNN marks his public exoneration since The Journal referred to him as the cop “tainted by corruption claims.”

“Someone associated with CNN … thought that I could bring a unique perspective to the conversation relating to the issues happening in Ferguson and across the country as it relates to race and injustices,” Byrd said in an email to The Ithaca Voice on Wednesday.

Byrd was interviewed by CNN’s Victor Blackwell.

“While on the show, I discussed the need for diversity in the Ferguson Police Department as well as responding to the controversial video that was released depicting (Michael) Brown as the person responsible for committing a robbery,” Byrd said.

Brown was the person whose death touched off the recent protests.

“I also spoke about the need for police and community leaders to educate the general public, especially those who are disenfranchised, on how to conduct themselves when they encounter law enforcement so that their encounter does not end in death,” Byrd said.

Byrd said CNN “also wanted me to touch on my personal experience(s), which I did to a small extent.”

The Voice hasn’t been able to track down a video of the interview, but more of Byrd’s story may still be discussed nationally.

“I was later contacted by a writer of CNN who wished to explore my full story relating to police corruption, the criminalization of black men and the whole ordeal that I went through back in 2012,” he said. “I am still exploring that option.”

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.