Police officers in two Tennessee cities were swiftly disciplined for social media activity following the fatal shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling this week.
In Nashville, Officer Anthony Venable, an eight-year veteran of the force, was “decommissioned” after posting, “Yeah. I would have done 5,” in a Facebook conversation regarding the shooting death of Castile, who was shot four times during a traffic stop. Venable said the comment was meant to be sarcastic.
“The police department is treating this matter very seriously and took immediate action, regardless of what he claims the context to have been,” Police Chief Steve Anderson told The Tennessean. Anderson had previously told The Tennessean that he was concerned that people were judging all police by the actions of the police officers involved in the shootings of Sterling and Castile.
“I am extremely concerned and disturbed by the videos and the accounts we have heard thus far coming from Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights,” Anderson said.
A vigil and protest is planned for Friday night in Nashville, and Anderson said that the vigil should go on as scheduled, despite the massacre of police in Dallas Thursday night. Anderson indicated his support for people to express their concerns. He insisted that Venable was not representative of the Nashville force.
He told Nashville Public Radio: “What he said does not in any way represent the men and women of this police department It was a disservice to the city of Nashville. It was a disservice to this police department. It was a disservice to every individual officer on the street. It’s something that can’t be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, over in Memphis, the Commercial-Appeal reported that Memphis Interim Director Michael Rallings had suspended two officers for a social media post. The officers posted an image on Snapchat that was an illustration of a white hand pointing a gun at an emoji depicting a black child.
Rallings told the Commercial-Appeal: “I will also address today’s incident regarding a disturbing image that was supposedly posted by an MPD officer. At this point two MPD officers have been relieved of duty. The image is disgusting and will not be tolerated. We will conduct a thorough investigation and the individuals responsible will be held accountable. I just spoke to a group of young people at LeMoyne-Owen about decisions and we are responsible for the decisions we make and we are held to a higher standard.”