St. Louis-area officer fired after Facebook comments on Ferguson protests

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(CNN) — A St. Louis-area police officer has been fired after making what his chief called “very concerning and inappropriate” Facebook comments on the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, according to a city official.

“These protesters should be put down like a rabid dog the first night,” Matthew Pappert, a police officer in the city of Glendale, wrote in one post, according to CNN affiliate KMOV. There were reportedly five inappropriate posts, KMOV said.

Pappert was originally suspended on August 22 after the comments came to light. An inquiry was initiated that day.

“Officer Pappert was dismissed following the conclusion of the investigation,” Glendale City Administrator Jaysen Christensen said. “Our focus at this point is to move past this, and turn the focus back to healing in the City (sic) of Ferguson.”

Glendale, like Ferguson, is a municipality in St. Louis County. The two suburbs are about 15 miles apart.

In announcing a week ago that Pappert had been suspended, Glendale Police Chief Jeffrey Beaton cited what he called “very concerning and inappropriate posts on his personal Facebook page,” according to the Webster-Kirkwood Times, an online news outlet in the area.

Police have come under fire for their heavy-handed response to the protests in Ferguson that followed the shooting death earlier this month of an unarmed black teenager by a white Ferguson police officer.

An attorney for Pappert issued a statement saying the officer was sorry for his comments.

“Officer Pappert is deeply remorseful about what he posted on social media,” his lawyer, William Goldstein, said. “We ask for (the) same spirit of forgiveness and the opportunity for redemption.”

Pappert was not the only police officer in the region suspended for comments that were perceived as offensive.

Dan Page, an officer with the St. Louis County Police Department, was caught on camera pushing CNN’s Don Lemon. He was placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced of him ranting about the Supreme Court and Muslims, among other things.

He also refers on the video to Barack Obama as “that illegal alien who claims to be our President.”

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  • JJ

    They should be protected by freedom of speech. It’s their right to express their views on their own time on their own personal web pages. An employer should not legally be allowed to fire someone for expressing personal views on their own personal time.

    • Skip Kirkwood

      Unfortunately, that is not the law in the United States. Public employees are held to a higher standard. They have the right of free speech, but there is no right to be a public employee. Sorry, the courts addressed this long ago.

  • Dan Crocker

    This lesson is having to be learned over and over again, especially when it comes to social media. If you are in the public eye, you don’t have the luxury of falling back on the protections of the First Amendment. Once you say (or post) something, it’s like a bullet leaving the barrel – you can’t call it back. The Officer later apologized through his attorney. Bad move… if you are going to say something, then man up and stand behind it. It only makes you look like a fool when you tap dance around it later.

  • John Q. Public

    If you THINK it, you’ll probably ACT IT OUT. As Kirkwood said, public employees are held to a higher standard. I recall a Master Chief Petty Officer saying that he thought women should not be in the Navy. When we questioned him further, he said that was his feeling and that even though he said it, and felt that way, he would not act on those thoughts or feelings. Upon further review we found out that ALL the women that worked for him were NEVER given a chance for promotion, bad evaluations, worst jobs, etc. His words preceeded his ACTIONS.

    He thought it, he felt it and he was in a position to effect it… and he did. If you THINK it, you’ll probable ACT IT OUT. That’s psychology 101. This officer had the ABILITY, and MEANS to put these American Citizens down like rabid dogs. Who wants this guy to possibly kill a bunch of Americans exercising their rights! This is AMERICA, not Russia or a third world country.

    I’ve seen ’em like him… Good bye. Join the Master Chief in “JUST US” land!

  • sally

    On your own time it it is still inappropriate to comment about work especially on Facebook where you must likely list your employer. So you work for McDonald’s and you say work sucks on Facebook. Person looks at your info sees you work at McDonalds and now think it sucks to work at McDonalds.

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