MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales revealed on Thursday, Sept. 13 that he fired one of his police officers tied to the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks' Sterling Brown in January.
Morales spoke at Marquette University -- and indicated the officer violated the department's policy on social media. That officer was apparently not involved in the initial response in the Brown case.
"I told the public at the beginning -- when we make a mistake, we're going to own it," Morales said.
Brown was arrested after he double parked in a handicapped parking spot outside Walgreens near 27th and National. Police used a Taser during that arrest.
"You bring your department into your social media, you're going to have to answer for it," Morales said.
A federal lawsuit filed by Brown exposed a Facebook post by Milwaukee Police Office Erik Andrade which read, "Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning!"
Morales said ultimately, the comments the officer made online compromised his integrity and ability to testify in court in any case.
"One of the most important functions of a police officer is to be able to testify in court, and if you can't testify in court, than that's one function I can't utilize you," Morales said.
Morales said he consulted with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. On Thursday afternoon, the chief issued the following statement:
"Police Officer Eric Andrade has been terminated by the Milwaukee Police Department as a result of images and statements posted to a social media account. According to our Standard Operating Procedure, members are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media to the degree that their speech is not disruptive to the mission of the Department. However, speech, on or off duty, pursuant to members’ official duties and professional responsibilities is not protected.
I find that Officer Andrade’s postings are in direct violation of such policy. They have a racist connotation and are derogatory, mocking an individual who was recently the subject of officers’ use of force. Such comments also directly affect his credibility and ability to testify in future hearings as a member of this Department. I have not, and will not, tolerate such behavior."
Chief Morales said the decision to terminate Andrade was difficult to make. He said he understands it will likely affect the officer's employment for years to come.
Chief Morales and Mayor Tom Barrett have, in the past, both publicly apologized to Brown for the incident. The mayor said he hopes the lawsuit can be resolved before it goes to trial.