By Brendan O’Brien
(Reuters) – A police officer has resigned after pointing a rifle at protesters during racially charged demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, and another has been fired for inappropriate social media posts stemming from the two weeks of civil unrest, officials said on Friday.
Violent protests erupted in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson after white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed black 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, drawing global attention to the state of race relations in the United States.
Police and demonstrators in Ferguson clashed nightly for days after the shooting, with authorities coming under fire for mass arrests and the what critics said were the use of heavy-handed tactics and military gear.
At a protest on Aug. 19, Ray Albers, a police officer in the neighboring community of St. Ann, pointed his rifle at a Ferguson protester during a heated verbal exchange, an episode that was captured on video and widely circulated on social media.
St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez said Albers, a 20-year veteran of the force, submitted his resignation on Thursday after the municipality’s Police Board of Commissioners recommended that he resign due to the incident in Ferguson and three prior disciplinary actions.
“They were very lenient because they could have just said he was terminated … knowing that 20 years counts for something, they asked him to resign,” Jimenez said. “That was a very appropriate decision.”
The other officer, Matthew Pappert, who worked in the nearby city of Glendale, was fired on Thursday for comments he made on Facebook during the protests, City Administrator Jaysen Christensen said.
Pappert, who was with the city’s police department since 2008, wrote on his Facebook page that he thought protesters should be “put down like rabid dogs,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.
He also said protesters were “a burden on society and a blight on the community,” the paper reported.
The city launched an internal investigation after officials learned of the posts, Christensen said.
“This officer’s comments and views that were expressed in the posts are absolutely not the views or opinions of the Glendale police department or the City of Glendale,” Christensen said.
In a statement released by his attorney, Pappert said he was “deeply remorseful” about the Facebook postings and “fully recognizes that his words were insensitive and hurtful.”
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)