MILWAUKEE USA- The Milwaukee Police Department said it has fired an officer for posting “racist” and “derogatory” content on social media about the arrest and tasing of NBA player Sterling Brown.
- “Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! LOL #FeartheDeer,” Andrade wrote on Facebook, referencing the Bucks’ rallying cry.
- Andrade also shared a post showing three pictures of black men, including Brown, that said, “Yes, whenever something happens it’s always an epidemic of racism, police brutality or whatever lies these failed liberal hand picked so-called liberal black leaders come up with.” Above the post, Andrade wrote, “A little truth to those who wanna listen.”
- After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, during which the Cleveland Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith committed a gaffe by letting the time run out when the game was tied, Andrade posted on Facebook, “I hope JR Smith double parks in Walgreens handicap parking spots when he’s in Milwaukee.”
- Andrade wrote, “Damn…..more naps than a preschool! Lmao” above a photo of an ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles juxtaposed with an image of the back of NBA superstar Kevin Durant’s head. The caption reads, “Who wore it better?”
- Andrade seemed to celebrate using force in one post, saying, “Had a great time workin replacement over in D5 the other day….5+ OT and a use of force. Lol.”
- In response to a news story about Milwaukee enacting a policy against mass incarceration, Andrade wrote, “It’s hilarious when people talk about mass incarceration lmao like wtf is that???? Mostly all the people I deal with at work do not stay locked up when they should be. Last time I checked if you don’t commit crimes you don’t get incarcerated.”
Erik Andrade was fired for violating social media policy — not for his conduct the night Brown was tased and arrested, Morales said.
Brown filed a federal civil rights suit in June against the Milwaukee Police Department and the city, claiming wrongful arrest and excessive force during an altercation outside a Walgreens store.
In his lawsuit, Brown cited Facebook posts and “racist memes” shared by Andrade after the incident.
“According to our Standard Operating Procedure, members are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media to the degree that their speech is not disruptive to the mission of the department,” Morales said in a statement.
“However, speech, on or off duty, pursuant to members’ official duties and professional responsibilities is not protected.”
During an event at Marquette University earlier Thursday, Morales said he was concerned about the fired officer’s past social media use being questioned in the future when his job requires him to testify in court about other cases.
“This is unfortunate … firing somebody is very serious in a profession such as this,” Morales told Marquette Law School fellow Mike Gousha during an “On the Issues” event.
“But at the same time for me, one of the most important functions of a police officer is to be able to testify in court.”
“And if you can’t testify in court … then I can’t utilize you,” the chief said.
Andrade can appeal his firing to the Fire and Police Commission.
Milwaukee police violated Brown’s Fourth and 14th Amendment rights during his arrest and tasing about 2 a.m. Jan. 26, the lawsuit says. While two sergeants and an officer received suspensions, their discipline was not for the “unlawful and race-based arrest and detention” of Brown or the excessive force used against him, according to the suit.
Hours after the arrest, Andrade wrote: “Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol#FearTheDeer,” according to the lawsuit.
Three months later, Andrade shared a meme of NBA star Kevin Durant mocking his hair.
More than a week after the department released video of Brown’s arrest, leading to public outcry, Andrade wrote a post about J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers after the team lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals: “I hope JR Smith double parks in Walgreens handicap Parkin spots when he’s in Milwaukee!”
Smith had rebounded a missed free throw while the game was tied and let the clock run out, later telling reporters he thought the team was going to take a timeout.
Andrade’s post about Smith “is an admission that he and other Defendant officers are allowed to engage in unlawful attacks and arrests of African Americans without justification and then relish such events without any fear of real discipline,” the suit says.
Those posts violate the department’s policy on social networking sites, Morales said.
The chief previously declined to say what possible discipline could be considered, citing the ongoing investigation and pending lawsuit.
That changed Thursday.
“I find that Officer Andrade’s postings are in direct violation of such policy. They have a racist connotation and are derogatory, mocking an individual who was recently the subject of officers’ use of force,” Morales said in the statement.
“Such comments also directly affect his credibility and ability to testify in future hearings as a member of this department. I have not, and will not, tolerate such behavior.”
Named defendants in Brown’s suit include the City of Milwaukee, Morales, Sgt. Sean Mahnke, Sgt. Jeffrey S. Krueger and Officers Joseph J. Grams, Bojan Samardzic, James P. Collins, Cristobal Martinez Avila, Jason P. Jensen and Andrade.
Police body camera video of the incident went viral after Morales released it in May. The video shows the situation getting progressively worse after Grams stopped to question Brown about the parking violation.
Grams, Krueger and Mahnke were disciplined. Another eight officers were required to receive remedial training on professional communications and review the Police Department’s policy on cooperating with citizens to ensure public safety.
The video shows Brown initially gave Grams his name and showed an identification card. Grams apparently did not recognize him as a player with the Bucks and called for assistance. Half a dozen squad cars showed up.
After that, the situation became more tense, with police standing in a circle around Brown before Mahnke yelled at him to take his hands out of his pockets — now.
At this point, Samardzic, one of the officers encircling Brown, drew his Taser.
Brown, who had taken his hands in and out of his pockets several times before that on the cold January night, replied: “Hold on. I’ve got stuff in my hands.”
Police swarmed him as Mahnke shouted “Taser! Taser! Taser!” Brown was forced to the ground and shocked in the back.
Brown was booked into the Milwaukee County Jail that night but was never charged.
“I told the public from the beginning when we make a mistake we’re going to own it,” Morales said Thursday at Marquette. “And in that situation we made mistakes and we own those mistakes.”