The San Jose (Calif.) Police Department has placed a veteran officer on leave and is investigating threatening comments from his Twitter account about demonstrators involved in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner protests.
The officer, who has been on the force 20 years, was placed on administrative leave after tweets captured by BuzzFeed News were published over the weekend. He wrote, "If anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter, I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun," according to the BuzzFeed article. In another, he vowed to use his “God-given and law-appointed right and duty to kill" if threatened.
The tweets and the officer's Twitter account have been deleted amid a social media firestorm over the comments. His department, union and a college where he coached basketball all condemned the comments, NBC Bay Area reports.
"It is extremely important for the community to know the comments made on [this officer's] private social media account do not reflect the thoughts or feelings of the men and women here at the San Jose Police Department,'' San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel said.
"Offensive, disrespectful and inappropriate social media comments have no place in the public discourse surrounding the tragic loss of life from recent officer involved incidents,'' the San Jose Police Officers' Association said in a prepared statement. "We condemn these comments.''
The San Jose Mercury News in October wrote about the 20-year veteran's success with a gang prevention education program for schoolchildren. The paper reported that the program was widely regarded for addressing life issues with youngsters, including choices and consequences, peer pressure and bullying and harassment prevention.
Police watchdog group Silicon Valley De-Bug started an online petition demanding the officer be fired, collecting nearly 9,000 signatures as of Monday evening.