June 22, 2017 10:44:33 AM
Three social media posts that landed a Columbus Police Department officer a 28-day suspension are now associated with a former officer's wrongful termination lawsuit against the city in federal court.
The city council voted 4-1 in executive session on Tuesday to suspend officer Jared Booth for 28 days without pay for violating the city's social media policy. How each councilman voted will not be available until the city publishes the meeting's minutes online.
All three Booth Facebook posts are included as exhibits in former CPD officer Canyon Boykin's lawsuit against the city, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi's Aberdeen Division.
Of the posts, two are from April of this year -- one of which is sexually explicit and the other uses a racial slur.
The third, posted on June 27, 2015, implied Boykin, by name, is gay, and it shared an article from callthecops.net about police and firefighters across the nation coming out of the closet and announcing their engagements to same-sex partners.
Two city officials, both of whom wished not to be named, confirmed the three posts served as basis for Booth's suspension.
The city's social media policy, adopted in 2013, forbids city employees from conduct that is "malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating, that disparages co-employees, suppliers or that might constitute harassment or bullying." The policy further lists an example of such posts as any that might harm someone's reputation.
On April 18, Booth shared a post that included a derivation of the 'N' word. A day later, he tagged a female CPD officer in a post that included an image of a sex toy and referenced oral sex.
Ties to Boykin
The city council fired Boykin shortly after the Oct. 16, 2015, shooting death of Ricky Ball for failing to activate his body camera before or during the incident. Also cited in his termination were inappropriate social media posts that were derogatory to women, African-Americans and disabled people, and Boykin allowing his then-girlfriend to ride as an unauthorized passenger in the patrol car the night of the shooting.
Boykin sued the city for wrongful termination in February 2016. He is also a defendant in two wrongful death lawsuits filed in federal court and has been indicted for manslaughter in the Ball shooting.
In the court document, filed May 16, Boykin's attorneys submit Booth's posts among several pieces of evidence to argue the city did not treat Boykin fairly in his firing.
"... Another police officer for the City of Columbus, Jared Booth, has used (a derivative of the n-word) on his social media, and Booth is still employed by the city," the filing states. "The fact is the social media posts, like the other two reasons given for Boykin's suspension, are clearly pretextual."
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