NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – A New Orleans police officer under investigation in a recent police-involved fatal shooting has been suspended indefinitely without pay for posting intemperate remarks on an online news story, suggesting that a young man wearing a hooded sweatshirt deserved to die because he “acted like a thug.” Officer Jason Giroir posted “Act like a Thug Die like one!” on an online WWL-TV article posted Sunday about local citizens rallying to protest the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old Florida boy who was killed Feb. 26 while wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking through a gated community.
Martin’s encounter with a gun-wielding citizen in his Florida neighborhood has become a flashpoint of national debate, hitting on contemporary issues of race and profiling, and a citizen’s right to bear arms.
After an online commenter named Eddie Johnson criticized Giroir’s comments as racist and questioned whether a hooded sweatshirt makes someone a thug, Giroir responded: “Eddie come on down to our town with a ‘Hoodie’ and you can join Martin in HELL and talk about your racist stories!:-P”
Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas announced the discipline Monday at a 3 p.m. news conference.
Serpas said Giroir’s postings caused him great concern and prompted an immediate suspension.
“To say I’m angry is an understatement. I’m furious,” Serpas said.
Serpas repeatedly stated that Giroir’s views do not reflect those of the NOPD.
Giroir’s wife also posted a similar comment about Martin — “He acted like a thug and died like one” — under the news story on the WWL-TV site.
Giroir’s attorney, Eric Hessler, said Monday that Giroir spoke to NOPD internal affairs investigators Monday and admitted to making the postings.
“His statement is, ‘Yes, I did it,'” Hessler said. “He certainly didn’t mean it as a racial comment, as an offensive comment, although it came out that way. He acknowledges he should have chosen better words. I couldn’t agree with him more.”
Hessler said everyone, especially police officers, need to “think before they type.”
The attorney said Giroir is not a racist.
“It was a boneheaded comment,” Hessler said. “He admits so.”
Giroir is currently under investigation for his role in a fatal shootout earlier this month in Mid-City. Two officers — Anthony Mayfield Jr. and Michael Asevedo — were severely wounded. Civilian Justin Sipp, who police say opened fire first, was fatally shot by police, and his brother was wounded.
The incident followed a traffic stop Giroir made early thatmorning on a vehicle that allegedly had a broken license plate light. Inside the car were the Sipp brothers, Justin and Earl.
After Justin Sipp began firing, Giroir and Mayfield returned fire, police have said. Giroir was not wounded.