Audio: Detective calls comments about Obama's death 'political hyperbole'

Veteran JSO officer retires after confronted with perceived threat to president

Published On: Nov 21 2012 10:11:36 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 22 2012 05:28:25 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has released audio of an Internal Affairs interview with a veteran detective accused of threatening the president and members of the Democratic Party the week of the election earlier this month.

That detective, Sam Koivisto, later retired from JSO.

In the interview, Koivisto was asked if he knew why he was being questioned.

"My understanding is that, and all I can say, all there is to say, is any statements made are political hyperbole," he said. "Such as when on TV, they go, 'Hey, you know, the Republicans want to, you know, take -- put people on death lists and, you know, push them off the cliff or something.' I mean, that's all it is. It's just political hyperbole. I have not said it. I've not made any threats against anybody. I've not said anything other than to express a desire, not happy with the fact Obama got elected. That's it."

LISTEN: Audio interview with detective accused of threatening president
DOCUMENT:  Sheriff Rutherford's letter on Detective Koivisto

An Internal Affairs investigator continued to prompt Koivisto about the statements he made.

"The statement I made in the office was something of the nature -- I think Ms. Field at some point said, 'You know, the poor people up north just got hit by one storm and now they're hit by another,'" Koivisto said. "And I made the statement, 'Well, you know, the whole Northeast just generally has voted Democratic, voted heavily Obama, got him elected. And so I said something to the point, 'Well, if a nuclear bomb exploded and killed them all, it wouldn't hurt my feelings any.' That's what I said. Didn't make any statement about hurting anybody or anything of that nature."

The investigator, however, said the statement he wanted Koivisto to speak on was one he made about a threat to kill the president.

"No. No. The only statement ever made about the president was, I said, 'You know, just like when they killed Osama bin Laden,' I said, 'If someone says, 'Hey, he is the enemy of the state or whatever,' and they had to take him out, then I could be the guy to do it,'" Koivisto said. "That's not, that's not a, that's not me saying I would kill the guy or anything of that nature. That's just to say that if the guy went away, it wouldn't hurt my feelings."

Koivisto said he never told anybody he wanted to kill the president.

“It was a bad choice of words, perhaps," he said. "No intention with it whatsoever.”

In Koivisto's retirement letter, he requested to keep his badge and Glock 27, and was allowed to.

Sheriff John Rutherford said his department learned the Friday after the election of "threatening statements allegedly made by one of our detectives."

Rutherford said in a preliminary interview with Koivisto, he acknowledged making the statements, which "we found his comments to be unacceptable workplace conduct, as opposed to legitimate threats."

"It was never made, never a threat, never any, you know, ever going to ever take any action on it or anything of that nature," Koivisto said. "It was just saying that, you know, I'm not real fond of the guy, and if he goes away it wouldn't hurt my feelings."

During the interrogation, he insisted it was all just talk.

"Simply just saying that I'm not pleased with that whole situation of, of the country is in. Period. That's it," Koivisto said. "Political hyperbole, nothing more, nothing less."

Given the nature of the comments, JSO notified the United States Secret Service of Koivisto's statements. The Secret Service said a decision on any possible charges would be up to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Rutherford said Koivisto, who had 24 years with the department, elected to retire early.