A look at Detroit Police Department's action over inflammatory Facebook posts
DETROIT (WJBK) - The Detroit Police Department is under a watchful eye right now as two of its members are being investigated for something they posted to Facebook.
The posts were made in the days following the deadly shooting in Dallas, in which five police officers were killed at the end of a Black Lives Matter protest. Authorities have since said one person was responsible for the shooting, and that he was killed in a standoff with police.
NATE WEEKLEY'S FACEBOOK POST
The first Facebook post in question came from Detective Nate Weekley. In his post, he called the Black Lives Matter movement "racists" and "terrorists." Yesterday, he was demoted from detective to officer.
Nate Weekley is also the brother of a Detroit officer who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the accidental shooting of a black girl during a raid years ago. Joseph Weekley, was leading a raid on a Detroit home in 2010 when he accidentally pulled the trigger and killed a 7-year-old girl. A judge dismissed a charge of involuntary manslaughter during a second trial in the highly publicized case.
Police union president Mark Diaz, who talked to Nate Weekley, said officers are under pressure. He acknowledged the chief has the power to demote the detective. The union would represent Weekley in any disciplinary phase if appropriate.
"We cannot afford, in America's blackest and poorest city, to have an officer on the street that spews the hate and the venom that Officer Weekley is spewing through his Facebook post," says polical director of the Michigan National Action Network Sam Riddle.
Weekley is currently still working but is restricted to desk duty.
PATROL SUPERVISOR'S POST
The second Facebook post in question came from a black Detroit police supervisor. Police Chief James Craig didn't disclose details, nor given the supervisor's name, but he described the remarks as "misguided" and the result of "bad judgment."
The supervisor's post was sent anonymously to police administration Monday morning and has not been shared with the media, whereas in Weekley's case, several people sent his post to local media.
The supervisor has been reassigned and placed on restricted duty. Unlike Weekley, Craig says the supervisor, a sergeant, can't be demoted under civil service rules.
THE LEGAL ASPECT
We talked with employment attorney Deborah Gordon, who says people often fall back on their First Amendments right and claim they are protected for what they post to social media. A Facebook post may not be criminal, but she says the courts have made it clear - people who work for the government are held to a different standard and need to watch what they write.
“If you are making statements that reflect on you as a police officer, your belief about the people you are policing or maybe even in your office, you can be disciplined and or fired for doing that,” Gordon says.
Craig says he'll take "prompt action" if social media posts contradict the mission of the department, no matter the person's race.
Detroit is 80 percent black. Across the country, the deaths of unarmed black males by police have inspired protests under the Black Lives Matter moniker. Craig noted there was a peaceful demonstration in the city Friday night.
Separately, Detroit police arrested four people in an investigation of online threats to kill white officers. Craig said the results of the probe will be given to prosecutors.
Although possibly a joke, "I take it serious," the chief said of threats.
This is a developing story. Stay with FOX 2 for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report