AUSTIN (KXAN) — A detective with the Austin Police Department has been suspended for three days for a Facebook post regarding the deadly shooting of 17-year-old David Joseph.
According to a disciplinary memo, in March, Detective Jason Chiappardi posted:
My family and friends are glad to hear that the high school dropout drug using, neighborhood terrorizing, naked guy will never scare anybody else again.”
Chiappardi told his supervisors he was referring to Joseph in the post. The memo said the detective’s post could “potentially damage the reputation and professionalism of the Austin Police Department.”
Family friend and co-founder of the Austin Justice Coalition, Fatima Mann, says the comments are disturbing.
“I know his mother, like are you kidding me? How would you feel if you’re child was killed, and someone talked like that about your child, and someone talked like that about your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your mom, your dad, like that was a person,” Mann says.
She thinks the comments reveal a racist culture among Austin Police Officers.
“How dare he hide behind a keyboard and say that and how dare he say that he’s protecting and serving the community, when if you were doing that, you would never have even thought to say something like that to someone,” Mann said.
The detective also criticized his boss, APD Chief of Police Art Acevedo, for his decision to fire Officer Geoffrey Freeman. In another Facebook comment, Chiappardi said, “It’s too f—— bad that the boss has no support for his officers. I hope he leaves soon.”
The memo says the officer’s postings are not protected speech and it violated the department’s policy.
“I think these are isolated incidents. We are very aware and we too share that concern [of a racist culture] and are looking at ways to make sure we’re doing the internal auditing that we need to do and that were having the critical conversations that we need to have with our officers and employees, that they understand that this is inappropriate, but more important, why this is inappropriate,” Chief of Staff, Brian Manley says.
Chief Manley says he wants to make sure the community knows the comments are not reflective of the department as a whole.
“Incidents like this don’t help do away with that mistrust, but I would just again state that this is not reflective of the beliefs nor the action of the majority of this police department,” Chief Manley said.
The detective, who is also a board member with the Austin Police Association, will complete his suspension from Aug. 22 through Aug. 24. It’s a suspension the union president, Ken Casaday doesn’t agree with.
“He said it under a fictitious name, he didn’t have his uniform on, he wasn’t representing the police department, he wasn’t representing the Austin police association,” Casaday says. “What is an officer’s first amendment rights? What can you say, what can’t you say?”
Casaday agrees the comments were not okay, but says the policy under which Chiappardi was disciplined under is too vague and they plan to appeal to an arbitrator.
“In no way what Detective Chiappardi said about the Joseph kid represents the police department or the Austin Police Association,” Casaday said. “But we need to do some fine tuning in our police department when it comes to social media.”
The detective has been with the force since 1999.