ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis police officers were fired recently for social media posts that a watchdog group determined were racist, violent in nature or anti-Muslim, the officers’ attorney said Monday.
Sgt. Ronald Hasty and Detective Thomas Mabrey were fired for “conduct unbecoming of an officer” because of content posted to Facebook, attorney Brian Millikan said.
Hasty and Mabrey were among 22 active St. Louis officers connected to social media posts considered racist, violent or prejudiced in a June study by the Philadelphia-based watchdog group The Plain View Project.
The group reviewed thousands of Facebook posts from 3,500 accounts tied to current and former officers in St. Louis and seven other cities around the country. Forty-three accounts were tied to St. Louis officers and 21 of them were former officers.
St. Louis police confirmed Monday that Hasty, a 32-year veteran, and Mabrey, a 30-year veteran, were no longer with the department as of Nov. 27. Spokeswoman Michelle Woodling declined to comment further, saying their departure was a personnel matter.
Jacob Long, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office, also declined comment.
Neither Hasty nor Mabrey had any complaints of discrimination against them in their employment records, Millikan said. The posts were made as private citizens and did not violate any city or police policy, he said.
“It’s important to note that these two officers had long careers,” he said. “We believe discipline should be based on their actual record and not something they shared on Facebook as private citizens.”
The two are appealing their firing.
The dismissals were confirmed after the Ethical Society of Police, a union group that represents African-American officers, said on Twitter that Hasty and Mabrey were fired for “racist Facebook posts” identified by The Plain View Project.
The group connected Hasty, head of the city’s trash task force, to the Facebook profile “Ron Nighthawk.” The group connects Thomas Mabrey to Facebook posts under the same name.
The June report noted that current or former St. Louis officers posted material that included the Confederate battle flag and questioned whether Black History Month is racist. Other content objectified women, mocked foreign accents and celebrated the shooting of criminals and the rough treatment of protesters.
Hasty declined to comment when reached by phone Monday. After the group first released the report in June, he denied the posts were racist.
“Well, that’s what they’re claiming, but last I checked I had First Amendment rights,” Hasty said in an interview with the Post-Dispatch. “I’m not a racist. You can talk to any of my friends.”
After the group’s report, the police department’s internal affairs division launched an investigation into the allegations, and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said the department would undergo further training of employees on anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and social media rules. Edwards did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.
City officials also removed some officers on the group’s list from patrol and placed them in administrative jobs while the internal affairs investigation continued.
Millikan said Monday that Hasty and Mabrey were among those officers put on desk duty. He declined to comment on the status of the other officers in that group.
Jeff Roorda, a spokesman with St. Louis Police Officers Association, declined to comment.
Hasty became an officer in 1987, police said. Mabrey began his career with the department in 1989.
Hasty was named the St. Louis Police Department’s Officer of the Year in 2006.
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