With all of the controversy going on over how police officers see African-American citizens and other citizens of their territory, one such place, located online, really shows the true colors of some officers. Facebook is a site where many people are not afraid to be open. People express their feelings, post lots of pictures, will comment to nearly anyone’s words, and even post incriminating evidence about themselves, though this is not always the smartest thing to do. However, the one post that shares the most light, is the one in which former active duty police officers let their true colors run on Facebook, proving that they are exactly the way that the public sees them, which is not a good thing. Though not every cop in the U.S. is crooked, racist, or unworthy of trust, there unfortunately seem to be many out there, even though the Oath of Honor that they take is suppose to keep them from acting in such a way.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Oath of Honor an officer takes explains how they are to conduct themselves. The Oath of Honor uses ethical standards that will be used on and off duty. Words like:
- Honor: one’s word is a guarantee
- Integrity: behave the same in private and public
- Character: qualities that set one apart from another
- Public Trust: charge of duty dictated in faith toward those served
- Accountability: answer to and responsible toward the oath
- Community: citizens served
- The Oath also states the officer will uphold the constitution.
The following discussion took place on Facebook between two former police officers, one on active duty, and two civilians. At the least, these men may have caused members of the public to lose faith in a system that is supposed to protect and serve. At the very most, the character of these officers both former and active duty is crystal clear and when challenged their colors run. They are not true blue blooded officers. Unless the life of a police officer has hardened their hearts it is entirely possible that they never were.
Current CNN contributor and former New York police officer, Thomas Verni posted a story from the New York Post about 14-year-old Christopher Duran’s murder on Facebook. Duran was a known gang member who was shot to death while walking to school Friday May 22. His killer was wearing a red bandana. Duran was ambushed and shot four times, screaming for his mom before he died. It was all caught on camera. After the initial post, a conversation over Facebook ensued between three other police officers, Brian Charles, Joseph Gasparre, and Andrew Blethen.
The officers involved in the Facebook discussion had all been Men in Blue and once had the authority to arrest and shoot New Yorkers. A representative from NYPD informed Policy.Mic that Andrew Blethen and Joseph Gasparre were former officers. The NYPD would not confirm if Brian Charles was a former officer, however there is a picture on Instagram from 2006 of Brian Charles in full NYPD uniform. Whomever the account owner was has removed the picture. However a different Instagram post identified Brian Charles as Sergeant Brian McMenamin of the NYPD Computer Training Unit. The NYPD website says the unit is a technical unit used to instruct officers on the proper usage and operation of standalone and online applications. The NYPD had no comment to this finding. Per this article since the name “Brian Charles” was used on Facebook, it will be used in the part of the article pertaining to Facebook.
Verni states in his initial Facebook post with the newspaper link containing Duran’s picture that when it comes to gang life learning things the hard way is not the way to go. The response officer Charles posted said, “(expletive) kid had gotten what he deserved because he would have ended up killing someone or been put in jail. The killer just saved the taxpayers money.” When someone posted a little empathy for Duran he was answered with a post that also came from Charles who told the empathizer he would not feel the same way he does now if this kid had robbed him or his mother. The kid chose to be a gangster.
Charles does acknowledge this much compassion “It’s a shame the punk kid died, but it’s no loss to society.” The empathizer states that the attitudes the former officers have about Duran and their expletives toward a 14-year-old boy, does not give him confidence in the New York police force. Charles said it bothers him when good things happen to bad people but when bad stuff happens to those who break the law or to thugs or a person that causes others harm that do not deserve it then yes (Expletive). Charles told the empathizer that he cannot understand because it is not something he has experienced.
A post from Blethen stated that the kid was a target so he was definitely not innocent by gang standards. The former officer further explained that Duran at only 14-years-old had a long criminal record already and his neighbors have referred to him as a piece of trash. (Note: The word ‘thug’ is thrown around a lot in this thread so Charles posted an article that was about the history of the word.)
Former officer Gasparre chimed in with his claims that Duran was an (expletive) “who would cut the throat of a nun.” Then he went on to state that Duran’s mother probably had more kids and was living on public assistance. He ended his post with, “One less mouth to feed, one new hole to dig.” Blethen referring to the picture of Duran in the paper sporting the West Coast symbol calls it a gang sign and claimed that explains how Duran was raised.
Another anonymous empathizer stated that the kid was just 14-years-old. Regardless of what the kid may have done or not he did not have a chance to learn that there were options for a better future. He may have grown up to be a terrible adult however he was a child who is now dead. “I just don’t see a universe where that’s not tragic.” The Facebook thread ends with the original empathizer telling the new one “Stop, this is a lynch mob not a discussion.”
Later Blethen added a comment on the Facebook post that stated whenever a 14-year-old kid is shot it is tragic but Duran was not a saint. He chose to live a corrosive lifestyle. Duran’s life had a negative impact on a numerous amount of people. He was a hazard to his own neighborhood.
Gasparre had more to say according to the NY Post, Duran flashed gang signs when he took selfies, he put a picture of a Smith & Wesson up on Facebook, and had a rap sheet a veteran gangster would be proud to show off. He asked why Policy.Mic wanted to know why he wrote the posts. He stated that he read the article. If the kid had not been arrested several times and posted selfies holding guns then he would have posted something different. It is a shame that someone as young as 14-years-old has a rap sheet that long and is a gang member. Stating that the boy was failed by his family, he challenges the reader to be less concerned about his comments and more concerned about how a 14-year-old is in a gang and has a rap sheet.
Gasparre had previously posted another comment on Facebook in 2014 concerning an article about Eric Garner who was an unarmed, black man arrested in Queens. Gasparre posted that Garner died because he was in poor health and a lazy fat (expletive) who would still be alive if he had not resisted arrest.
The men who are no longer police officers can not be held responsible for their posts on Facebook. However it does indicate the mentality these police officers have concerning minorities including impoverished people and the constant use of the word ‘thug’ which is the new “N” word, according NFL cornerback, Richard Sherman.
The “Stop and Frisk” rule has recently been ruled as unconstitutional. Raw Story says they wonder if Charles Gasparre and Blethen often stopped Latino and Black New Yorkers, or thugs as they refer to this group of people, without a legal purpose. Raw Story also ponders the question “How many current cops think the same way?”
These former police officers used language that dehumanized Duran by referring to him as a thug which is a racial slur. NYPD stereotyping is so common that Reuters took a poll of 25 African-American NYPD officers both former and active duty and it was discovered that 24 of them had been racially profiled when they were off-duty at some point.
The most heartbreaking point of the Facebook comments is that at some point all these men wore the NYPD Blue and it was their obligated duty to “protect and serve” all New Yorkers. The distressing part about this entire ordeal according to Policy.Mic is that the police officers on Facebook do not show any consideration for a 14-year-old boy, who somehow ended up in a gang, as having the same “constitutional equality” as any other New Yorker.
On May 22 the streets of New York did run red with Christopher Duran’s blood unnecessarily, and he can not be brought back to his family. New York can run gang rehabilitation programs and keep kids off the streets programs and this may save some kids from the reach of gangs. What cannot be done, is teaching New York police officers how to keep from judging a child from a file. No matter who Duran was when he was alive he was 14-years-old and now he is dead. His family cannot even mourn peacefully because of three men who lack honor and public trust. Though these officers are former active duty members of the NYPD, they certainly let their colors run on Facebook.
Opinion by Jeanette Smith
Raw Story: Ex-NYPD cops trash 14-year-old victim of shooting in shocking Facebook exchange
Policy.Mic: Exclusive: Here Are a Bunch of Cops Talking A Slain 14-Year-Old Deserved to Die
IACP: What is the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor?
Photos courtesy of:
Zenith Richard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Jeremiah John McBride’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License