St. Louis Police Dept. fires two officers after troubling social media posts

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St. Louis, Missouri (Image by skeeze from Pixabay)

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has fired two officers whose troubling public Facebook posts were included in an online database of social media activity by members of law enforcement.

A spokeswoman from the department confirmed that the employment of Officer Thomas Mabrey and Sergeant Ronald Hasty ended on November 27, but declined to comment on the circumstances of the officers’ separation because it is a personnel matter. Brian Millikan, an attorney representing both officers, did not return a call for comment, but confirmed to St. Louis Public Radio that the officers were fired and that they are appealing their terminations.

Two days before Hasty and Mabrey’s employment with the department ended, a department spokeswoman confirmed to Injustice Watch that some officers remained on administrative leave pending disciplinary action, but declined to identify by name or share the number of officers who were placed on desk duty.

Mabrey and Hasty were two of 22 current St. Louis city police officers whose posts were included in the Plain View Project’s database, which compiled thousands of posts by law enforcement officers in eight locales that displayed bias against particular groups, cheered violence, scoffed at violence, used dehumanizing language, or had the potential to undermine public trust in policing. Injustice Watch, in collaboration with Buzzfeed News, was the first to report on the database in June.

Injustice Watch contacted the St. Louis city police department about Mabrey in February, providing the department with one of many anti-Muslim posts he had shared on his personal Facebook page. In that post, Mabrey shared a false news report that distorted an incident in which a woman police officer was shot responding to a call from a Moroccan man in Lebanon, Ohio. “F these muslem turd goat humpers,” Mabrey wrote.

At that time, a department spokesman said that they had forwarded the information regarding the post to their Internal Affairs Division. Hasty, who posted on Facebook under the name “Ron Nighthawk,” shared videos that cheered violence, posts with pictures of Confederate flags, and a meme about the need for “White History Month.”

In July 2016, Hasty shared a meme apparently showing a photo of Alton Sterling, a black man killed by police in Baton Rouge as he was pinned down on the ground, with two young children posing with guns. “What a piece of Dog Sh*t,” Hasty wrote. “KARMA IS A BITCH! ORIN this case a KILLER!”

After the database was published, city officials said officers in the department would undergo sensitivity training. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced that she had placed the 22 officers whose posts were included in the database on an exclusion list, meaning they could not bring criminal cases to her office.

Other departments took swifter action to discipline officers whose posts were included in the database. In Philadelphia, the largest department included in the database, the top cop in July announced his intention to fire 13 officers related to their social media posts. In September, the department announced that it would issue some form of discipline, ranging from suspensions to additional training, to more than 150 other officers.

In October, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams announced her intention to fire one officer, and to discipline roughly 70 others related to the social media posts.

Mabrey had been with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department since 1989, and Hasty since 1987.

This article was originally published on Injustice Watch.

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