A Little Rock police recruit who used a racial slur in a past Facebook post has been fired from the department, as has a fellow recruit who had raised concerns about the post, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.
Recruit Brandon Schiefelbein, who is white, was terminated from the department on Friday, said agency spokesman Lt. Michael Ford.
The firing comes after the department opened an internal investigation into a June 2013 Facebook post by Schiefelbein, which included a slur offensive to black people.
In a letter sent Friday, Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner wrote to Schiefelbein that his termination "comes as a result of comments you made on social media that have caused complaints both from within the Department and from citizens in the community."
The letter was obtained through Schiefelbein's lawyer.
"Some officers with whom you would be required to work on a daily basis and who must trust you in tense situations are extremely offended as well as some citizens," Buckner wrote to the recruit. "Your comments have significantly damaged this trust and contributed to an already tense relationship between the Department and the community."
Another recruit, Brandon Gurley, also has been fired, Ford said Tuesday. He declined to comment on why Gurley was terminated.
In a letter previously sent to Buckner, Schiefelbein's lawyer Robert Newcomb wrote that Gurley, who is black, had raised concerns about his client's Facebook post but appeared to have used the same racial slur in past Facebook posts of his own.
"Both of these were done when both individuals were younger," Newcomb wrote in the letter addressed to Buckner.
In Friday's letter to Schiefelbein, Buckner wrote that Schiefelbein was being terminated for a violation of a section of the department's rules and regulations.
According to that letter, the policy states that "no officer shall engage in any personal act or conduct which, if brought to the attention of the public, could result in justified criticism of that officer or the Department. No officer shall be personally involved in disturbances or police incidents to his/her discredit."
"As a result of your actions, especially at this early point in your career, your employment must be terminated," Buckner wrote.
The contentious Facebook post on Schiefelbein's account included the words "Go night night n***a. Go night night" with a picture of a black man apparently sleeping on a bed.
Newcomb previously described the post as a joke among friends and said the words were in reference to a quote from comedian Kevin Hart, who is black.
On Tuesday, Newcomb said in an interview that he was disappointed in the decision to fire his client. He said Schiefelbein was fired only over the Facebook post and not because of other actions.
"I think there's a First Amendment problem with the city firing him," he said, adding that the decision creates an "unreasonable" situation for people wanting to work for the city.
Last month, the Little Rock Black Police Officers Association raised concerns about Schiefelbein in a letter addressed to Buckner. The letter described the recruit's Facebook post as "very careless, distasteful and demeaning."
"We will not sit silently and allow or wait for the City of Little Rock to unfold a welcome mat for this recruit. We will not tolerate it!" the association's letter read. "His words have made it clear regarding his thoughts about African Americans. We will not allow him to act on how he feels about us."
The letter also raised concerns about a separate incident regarding a picture posted at the department's substation on West 12th Street. The picture includes a stick figure pointing a gun at another figure, which had its knees on the ground and hands around its back, apparently in handcuffs.
The letter described its posting as "inappropriate" and demanded an investigation.
Ford said the internal investigation into the picture has been completed, and the picture in question was removed the same day it was put up. He declined to comment when asked whether any employees received punishment or reprimand for the sign being posted.
"It's a personnel issue," he said. "So it's been handled."
Metro on 12/13/2017
Print Headline: LR police dismiss two recruits; Poster of racial slur, man who reported it both lose their jobs