Milwaukee Police Chief, Alfonso Morales, fired Officer Erik Andrade after the controversial arrest and tasing of NBA player Sterling Brown. But, NOT for his conduct on the night of the incident, instead, it was for violating social media policy.
Although Milwaukee police violated Sterling Brown’s Fourth and 14th Amendment rights during his arrest, the lawsuit he has put into motion doesn’t seem to be getting the justification it deserves. Brown filed a federal civil rights suit against the #Milwaukee Police Department and the city in June, claiming wrongful arrest and excessive force during an altercation outside a #Walgreens store. According to Journal Sentinel, two sergeants and one 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.
Also in Brown’s lawsuit, he cited #Facebook posts with “racist memes” shared by Andrade after the incident. THIS was the important factor for the police chief and THIS is what prompted Morales to terminate Andrade. A few hours after the arrest, Andrade made a Facebook status stating, “Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol #FearTheDeer” and in the months to follow, posted other racists memes targeting other NBA players such as #KevinDurant and JR Smith. After the #Cavaliers lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Andrade posted, “I hope JR Smith double parks in Walgreens handicap Parkin spots when he’s in Milwaukee!”
In regards to his officer’s social media remarks, Police Chief Morales stated, “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. However, speech, on or off duty, pursuant to members’ official duties and professional responsibilities is not protected.” He continued by saying, “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. 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.”
Morales spoke with Mike Gouda of #Marquette Law School and stated, “This is unfortunate. Firing somebody is very serious in a profession such as this. 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.