Florida cop fired for racist Facebook comments gets his job back
A Florida police officer fired for making racist comments online was reinstated following an appeal, the Broward Palm Beach News reports, the Broward Palm Beach New Times reports.
Jeffery Feldewert, a 20-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, posted a photo on his Facebook page of a black man being arrested with the comment, “typical hoodrat behavior.” The post was a meme with the words, “Black People. Because without them the evening news wouldn’t be as much fun to watch.”
After appealing his firing, his punishment was altered to a 10-day suspension without pay.
Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman told the paper Feldewert was reinstated because his firing put several of the prosecutions of arrests he was involved with in jeopardy.
“While the city certainly does not condone Officer Feldewert’s actions, nor are they in any way representative of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the actual matter, evaluated with the officer’s record, did not warrant termination,” Feldman wrote in a statement emailed to reporters.
Gordon Weekes, the county’s chief public defender, told Local 10 that he doesn’t think Feldewert should have been allowed back on the job.
“If you express that type of hate, you should no longer be an officer,” Weekes told the station.
Feldewert said in a recorded response aired by Local 10 that the comment was supposed to be funny.
Feldewert had also used a picture of a skull painted red, white and blue with the Fort Lauderdale police bade, and the words “savage hunter” emblazoned on it.
“That term, ‘savage hunter,’ is very indicative of a police officer that is truly trying to hurt and terrorize a community,” Weekes told Local 10.
Feldman, who was responsible for reinstating Feldewert onto the streets of Fort Lauderdale, was on vacation and unavailable to comment, according to Local 10.
This is just one incident in a department that has had problems with race relations in the past.
This past March, three Fort Lauderdale police officers were fired and a fourth suspended after a racist video and text messages they were responsible for surfaced. The video included images of black people being attacked, KKK hoods and President Barack Obama with large gold teeth, while the texts contained racial slurs and talk of killing black people, along with derogatory remarks directed at Latinos and LGBT people.
The words “savage hunter” also appeared in that video.
Weekes had said the video and Feldewert’s Facebook comments are just the “tip of the iceberg” of larger problems plaguing the police department.
Watch the report from Local 10 here: