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2 Little Rock police recruits fired over racial slur on Facebook

LRPD launch investigation into FB post with racial slur

Little Rock police said Tuesday that two recruits had been fired over a Facebook post that contained a racial slur.

Department spokesman Lt. Michael Ford said recruits Brandon Schiefelbein and Brandon Gurley were no longer employed by the department. Both had been in the Little Rock police training academy. But in late November, the department launched an internal affairs investigation after the Black Police Officers Association accused Schiefelbein, who is white, of making racial slurs against black people on his personal Facebook page.

The post reportedly shows a black man who appears to be sleeping and a caption that includes a racial slur that stars with letter "n."

The recruit’s attorney, Robert Newcomb, told KATV he sent a letter to Little Rock police saying it would be unfair to fire the recruit over the Facebook post.

“The government is taking action against him potentially … for something he did as a private citizen,” Newcomb said.

Newcomb said his client’s caption was quoting African-American comedian Kevin Hart.

“He was joking and posting over his friend who was asleep, and sometime uses terms like that because it has a different connotation with the ‘a’ instead of the ‘r’ in the younger generation,” he said.

The post was reportedly made in 2013 when Schiefelbein was in the military. The Little Rock Black Police Officers Association, in a letter to the Little Rock Police Department, called the recruit's Facebook activity careless, distasteful and demeaning and stated that the recruit’s post only exacerbates the current concerns of the African-American community.

Newcomb called the internal affairs investigation unfair, telling KATV it was originally an African-American recruit, who he claims also uses racial slurs online, that first reported Schiefelbein.

Newcomb said that if the department is going to be fair in this case, it should either fire or keep both recruits.

Newcomb issued this statement to KATV about Schiefelbein's termination:

"I am disappointed that the City of Little Rock terminated Mr. Schiedelbein from the Little Rock recruit class. He was the number one recruit in the class. The statement made, was not made as a racial statement by him at the time nor taken at the time as a racial statement. I think the City of Little Rock has violated his first amendment rights for punishing him for a statement made before he was ever an employee of the City. I have no comment on the other individuals because I am not sure what factors may have gone into his termination."


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