LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Police suspended an officer for 30 days earlier this year for violating the department’s social media policy with Facebook posts that “advocate violence against others” and “fostered mistrust of the police,” according to Chief Steve Conrad.
After an internal investigation of more than one year, Conrad planned to fire Officer Brian Smith for three posts that “brought discredit upon our Department. Your conduct has damaged the image of our Department we have established with our community,” the chief wrote Smith on January 16, according to documents obtained through a public records request.
Ten days later, on January 26, Conrad told Smith in a letter that a month’s suspension without pay was an appropriate penalty. Smith could have appealed during that time.
Smith was present but did not fire his weapon during the August 2016 police shooting of 57-year-old Darnell Wicker, whom officers shot and killed at the Broadleaf Arms apartments near Crums Lane. Wicker was holding a “large curved bladed object,” Conrad said.
Conrad later exonerated Smith of any wrongdoing in the shooting. Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine determined the actions of the other officers were justified. Wine said Wicker had a weapon and did not respond to officers’ commands; Wicker’s family argued he was holding a saw by his side when he was killed.
The Facebook posts, which Conrad wrote that Smith acknowledged making, included:
- “Ok. … If you wear a hat, square it up on ur head and put a bend in the bill, and pull ur pants up. You really make me want to hit u as hard as i can in the face just to see if I can fold ur teeth inside ur mouth. I’m not saying id do it, for that would be illegal, immoral, and wrong, not to mention (and most important) could get me in trouble. That is all.”
- “ANIMAL! Nothing but a wild animal that needs put down. There I said it.”
- “Somebody please take that microphone and beat her half to death with it. That’s a lesson in Muslin behavior for her.”
The documents provided by police don’t include any context surrounding the posts. However, Conrad wrote in his January 16 letter to Smith, “I believe your posts can be construed by some to express ridicule, bias, disrespect or prejudice against members of our community.”
The posts were brought to LMPD’s attention by attorney Sam Aguiar, who is representing Wicker’s daughters in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and police. That suit is pending in U.S. District Court in Louisville.
Smith had been named as a defendant in that lawsuit, but he was dropped from the case in 2017 at the request of both sides, court documents show.
As WDRB News previously reported, Smith was suspended without pay for 25 days in 2009 for sending inappropriate text messages to a minor who was his ex-girlfriend's daughter. He later was reprimanded after not reporting off-duty work.
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