Two SWAT officers were reassigned after they made social media posts fantasizing about killing Cliven Bundy supporters during a standoff earlier this year at his Nevada ranch.
Officer Russell Laws logged onto Facebook shortly after the April 12 standoff ended between federal and local authorities and armed protesters, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The newspaper reported that the 41-year-old Laws commented on a news photo posted by a Bundy supporter that showed a militia member pointing a rifle at officers, saying police had weapons trained on them, as well.
“I just wish you could see how big that guy prone with the rifles head was in the scope of the (police) Snipers .308.” Laws commented. “Don’t worry, he wouldn’t have have felt a thing!”
Laws was not at the standoff, but Bundy’s supporters were quickly able to determine he was a Metro police officer – and a SWAT sniper since 2009.
“I have a .308 with a 20x too, buddy. I’m not worried about some fat, oath breaking cooterville SWAT sniper,” replied J.L. Bourne, a military veteran and author of zombie apocalypse books. “I’m going to archive this, and screen capture everything in case their names ever come up in a police brutality case.”
Laws deleted the post, but not after a complaint was filed with the police department.
Bourne later shared the posts with the Review-Journal.
“I’m extremely concerned about the militarization of our police and Officer Laws’ open fantasizing of shooting civilians is a prime example,” he said.
Police officials said Laws’s comment was not a direct threat, but they said it could have escalated an already dangerous situation and could have caused problems if he was later involved in a SWAT shooting.
The post also violated the department’s social media policy against “reckless or irresponsible” speech, police said.
The police union opposed transferring Laws because he was not given a chance to appeal, and their efforts to defend the officer cost his supervisor his job, as well.
Sgt. Michael Quick told union lawyers that he didn’t see anything wrong with the comments, and department officials transferred him to another position.
The union plans to sue the police department on behalf of both officers.