Retired Florida cop posts controversial message about Alton Sterling shooting
Other retired police officers under fire for 'liking' post
MIAMI – A man found a Facebook post by a retired South Florida police officer so disconcerting, he sent it to WPLG-TV news in Miami.
Retired Miami-Dade schools police Officer Mindy Gross posted a link to an article on her Facebook page July 7 that had been posted on the website for former U.S. Rep. Allen West about the police-involved shooting death of Alton Sterling. The article was titled "Here's what liberals don't want you to know about Louisiana shooting victim."
Sterling's death while being pinned down by two white Baton Rouge police officers sparked demonstrations across the country and Louisiana's governor called video of the shooting "disturbing."
Yet, Gross wrote, "A piece of garbage the world is better off without!" on the caption to her post.
Four people clicked "like" on her post, and according to records obtained from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Miami-Dade police, all four have law enforcement connections.
Henry Sanchez is a retired police complaint officer, Al Graves is a retired Miami-Dade police officer, Mercy Rizo is a retired Miami-Dade police sergeant and Armando Calzadilla is a current patrol officer with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department.
"I mean, he likes it. That's the way he goes about his daily duty," Francis Francois, of the NAACP's Miami-Dade County chapter, said. "When you see all these, you know, the increased number of black children going to jail instead of, you know, alternative programs, I mean, you have to look at things like this. ... Is this part of the reason?"
The Miami-Dade Schools Police Department confirmed that Calzadilla is being investigated by internal affairs for liking the post.
Retired Miami-Dade Schools Police Officer Kennedy Fell also commented to Gross' post, writing in part, "F you dumb A (expletive) that sympathize with him."
Gross liked that comment.
"There was a racial slur on there," Francois said. "If you like this, that's the way you think and that's the way you're going to handle the people who are of color."
While these are just a handful of individuals, Francois' concern is deeper.
"The hate is real. That's it. The hate is real," he said. "I mean, it's not something that we as people of color or we as an organization, we're trying to embellish or make up."
Local 10 News has contacted each person via Facebook messenger to ask for a comment but has yet to hear back from any of them.
"The Miami-Dade Schools Police Department prides itself on its mission to 'serve and protect our future' while having a core purpose of 'impacting lives today for a better tomorrow,'" Miami-Dade Schools Police Department Chief Ian Moffett said in a statement. "The social media post in question was brought to our attention by current police officers from within our agency. We immediately had our professional compliance unit open an investigation into the matter based on our social media policy, law enforcement officer's code of ethics standards, and school district policy involving one of our current officers. Any of our active employees that are found in violation will face the appropriate consequences. As to ex-employees involved that no longer work for our organization and have been retired before I became the chief, it saddens me and their comments do not reflect what we represent. These comments are painful to me as they are to the diverse community we serve and the entire law enforcement profession. They do not reflect our police agency's values, which include 'respect, integrity, service, education, collaboration and being pioneers.'"
Moffett went on to say that his department holds its officers "to the highest ethical standards and conduct on and off-duty. Let the system address the facts, and let's not judge all on the acts of a few."
The NAACP Miami-Dade chapter is planning a "black and blue" forum to reach out to law enforcement in the hopes of bringing together a community that is in desperate need of unity.
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