Police Officers in Two States Accused of Mocking Charlottesville Violence

(The Washington Post) -

After the weekend of unrest in Virginia, police officers in two separate states are under investigation over social media posts that allegedly mocked the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

Officers with the Shively Police Department in Kentucky and Springfield Police Department in Massachusetts allegedly made fun of a fatal car crash that occurred during a rally Saturday in which hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counter-protesters. Heather D. Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville was killed and many others were wounded in the attack.

In Massachusetts, Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri said he received a complaint Sunday about a social media comment reportedly made by a Springfield police officer.

Police confirmed to The Washington Post that Officer Lariviere has been reassigned during the investigation.

“If, in fact, this post did originate from an officer employed with the Springfield Police Department,” the police commissioner said, “this matter will be reviewed by the Community Police Hearings Board for further action.”

“Unbelievable!” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said Sunday in a statement. “There is no place for this in our society, let alone from a Springfield Police Officer.”

In Kentucky, Shively Police Lt. Col. Josh Myers told The Post that Officer Morris Rinehardt has been placed on administrative leave during an investigation into a meme posted on social media.

The Courier-Journal reported that Rinehardt posted a meme over the weekend depicting the damaged vehicle. It apparently read: “When you were born a Challenger but identify as a Ram.”

Phone numbers listed for both officers did not appear to be current.

But in a social media conversation with MassLive, Lariviere, with the Massachusetts police department, apologized for “a stupid comment about people blocking streets.”

“Never would I want someone to get murdered. I am not a racist and don’t believe in what any of those protesters are doing,” he told the news site. “I’m a good man who made a stupid comment and would just like to be left alone.”

Sarno, the Springfield mayor, said that the officer’s actions were not a “reflection of our men and women in blue, who serve with honor, courage and compassion.”

“If these individuals do not learn from, understand and represent the meaning of mutual respect, my strong suggestion would be a different career path,” the mayor said in a statement. “I stand by and commend Commissioner John Barbieri’s steps for a thorough internal investigation and review by our Community Police Hearing Board to pursue the appropriate discipline against said officer.”