BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) -A high-ranking Iberville deputy who posted an insensitive comment on social media will be suspended without pay. The sheriff says he is still working on the exact timeframe for how long that suspension will last but he’s leaning toward five days at this time.
“This is unacceptable. We hold our deputies to a higher standard than this. This was not funny and I hope this deputy and others in this department will learn that. This will not be a paid vacation and we have to do better,” said Stassi.
The comment stemmed from a meme that was posted on social media Thursday evening which asked commenters to poorly explain what they do for a living.
James Lewis, a team leader and veteran with the sheriff’s office, appears to have posted “I violate a civilian’s ability to breathe” under the post. Those posts were shared with the 9News Investigators by a source close to the department.
“I think five days suspension without pay will take care of this particular problem and he will be put on notice that any further violations of this will result in his termination,” said Stassi.
“I’m very disappointed and this was in extremely poor taste,” said Sheriff Stassi. “Even though it looks like it was supposed to be sarcastic, we hold our deputies to a higher standard.”
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked the sheriff if it’s okay for officers who are on their own time and on their personal Facebook to post something like what his deputy posted.
“It’s not the case for all law enforcement officers,” Stassi replied. “I expect my deputies to do better. We have to be above and beyond what people expect.”
The post comes as agencies across the nation have faced questions over the actions of their officers and communities have been engulfed in protests calling out instances of police brutality.
Councilman Raheem Pierce weighed in on the situation. He released the following statement to WAFB.
"It is my duty of a Councilman, not only representing District 6, but all of the people of Iberville Parish to speak on this matter especially in the environment we’re living in today. To hear a comment like such coming from an officer in this capacity whose job is to simply “protect and serve” the same people I represent is very unacceptable and inappropriate. He does not deserve a taxpayer-funded vacation and I also recommend that other further actions be taken to ensure that his words do not turn into action."
While the post seems to be a sarcastic joke, the sheriff says he’s not laughing and believes those trusted to serve and protect should not be publicly joking about making sure someone cannot breathe. He says it erodes the public trust in the men and women who serve with honor.
“I hope the public knows that this comment doesn’t reflect me or my office,” said Stassi. “When you have the power that comes with the badge and the respect that we need from the public, we can’t have these kind of mistakes. If you’d conduct yourself in that manner, we wouldn’t have any problems and I wouldn’t have to talk to Scottie Hunter.”
The deputy is currently out of town but the sheriff says they will address this when he gets back and he will determine exactly how long the deputy will be suspended.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter will have more reaction from the sheriff’s office tonight on 9News at 10.
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