LMPD investigating officer's alleged Facebook posts - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LMPD investigating officer's alleged Facebook posts

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Several controversial posts have been shared on the Facebook page of a Louisville Metro Police officer in the wake of protests over the recent police shooting deaths of two black men. One of those posts includes the same meme that prompted Metro Corrections to suspend a sergeant earlier this week.

It appears Officer Ryan Scanlan recently shared a meme on his personal Facebook page that pictured a white police officer leaning against his cruiser that said: "If we really wanted you dead all we'd have to do is stop patrolling your neighborhoods. …. And wait."

On Wednesday, Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton suspended Sgt. Derek Hale for the same post, saying it was "associated with blatant racial bias."

An LMPD spokesperson said in a statement that an "administrative review" has been initiated by Chief Steve Conrad to "ensure the validity" of the allegations. Sgt. Phil Russell also noted that social media accounts are "prone to hacktivists posing as officers."

Russell wrote in the statement that police policy "prevents conduct that could be adverse to the operation, morale and efficiency of our department and the trust of the community. In this cyber age when private internet postings can easily be re-shared and made public, we encourage members to be mindful to balance their first and fourth amendment rights while maintaining" police policy.

He said police could not further discuss the investigation while it is pending. 

Scanlan, whose Facebook page was deleted Thursday, could not be immediately reached for comment.

A meme from Rush Limbaugh about the Black Lives Matter movement was also shared on Scanlan's Facebook page before it was deleted.

"Has it occurred to anyone that if you're able to organize this many people for a protest" the meme starts, with the words on top of a picture of dozens of black people holding a Black Lives Matter banner. "You can organize this many people to clean up your community and get rid of the criminal element causing the problem."

In another post, Scanlan shared a meme headlined, "It’s NOT about color. It’s about the law."

The image featured a series of crudely-drawn figures of people depicting what happens to someone if they don’t move when if an officer tells them to "stop."

If a person stops, the result is getting handcuffed, according to the meme.

But the image associated with not stopping is different. It shows what appears to be a police officer getting attacked, followed by the figure of someone lying on the ground bleeding with three holes in the body and a caricature of an officer handcuffing the person.

"If you understand this … please share. If you are still confused … please keep studying it."

A story from the website conservativetribune.com about the lack of outrage over an unarmed white man recently shot and killed by a black police officer was also shared on Scanlan's Facebook page.

Before it was deleted, the page said Scanlan went to Trinity High School and studied at Eastern Kentucky University before becoming a police officer.

The posts from Scanlan and Hale's pages come just days after Louisville officials, law enforcement and community activists have called on the city to band together following the shooting of the two black men and sniper shootings in Dallas that left five police officers dead and six injured. 

"It makes bridging these peace efforts between the community, the police department and the mayor’s office that much harder when these kind of posts are shared in such a redundant way that compiles hurt upon hurt," said Christopher 2X, a community activist with the Hood 2 Hood Movement.

On Wednesday afternoon, Corrections Director Bolton suspended Hale and initiated an investigation into whether he violated the Metro Corrections Employee Code of Ethics and Conduct policy, according to a news release.

"Every day the men and women of Metro Corrections work to strengthen race relations in this community," said Bolton in a written statement. "Sgt. Hale’s social media decision has hurt those good efforts. This nation is in the midst of an agitated and inflamed public reaction to police shootings of black men.  A Metro Corrections Sergeant made a conscious decision to use social media to react to this national outrage."

The post stirred immediate controversy. On Wednesday, Sadiqa N. Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, issued a written statement saying Hale’s "attitude poses a danger to our community and to his colleagues and they should not be silent. The idea that this would even be in his private thoughts makes it clear that at this point he is not worthy of the uniform."

Reynolds issued another statement Thursday. It read, in part:

"I can’t say enough about the need for continuous and ongoing bias training.  If, in fact, he actually posted these things, this even further erodes community trust in LMPD."

Hale’s Facebook profile says he went to Pleasure Ridge Park High School and studied at the "University of The Smartest People on the Planet."

Several community members expressed outrage on social media and shared the post along with phone numbers to reach Metro Corrections officials. 

On Thursday, Tracy Dotson, president of the Louisville Department of Metro Corrections FOP Lodge #77, released a statement calling for the public to reserve judgment until the facts have been determined and Hale has had his day in court.

"Every citizen is entitled to due process and a fair hearing concerning matters alleged against them," Dotson wrote. "The Fraternal Order of Police wholeheartedly supports the due process for Sergeant Derek Hale and is representing him to our fullest capability."

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