Pennsylvania police officer fired over ‘racist and derogatory’ email
A veteran police officer in Pennsylvania has been fired after he reportedly sent a “racist and derogatory” email about the black community, racial injustice protesters and journalists to the media.
Erie Mayor Joe Schember (D) announced on Thursday evening that Sgt. Jeff Annunziata, 62, had been fired, The Erie Times-News reported.
“Sgt. Jeff Annunziata sent an email to members of the media containing racist and derogatory statements,” Schember said. “I condemn these statements. I am appalled and disgusted by the racial insensitivity of this email.”
The email, first reported by the outlet hours before Annunziata’s ouster, was sent to four Erie Times-News reporters and Schember from the cop’s official city account.
The chief traffic investigator and 34-year veteran of the department lashed out at protesters seeking criminal justice reform in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police, accusing African Americans of being unable to “take care of their own or anyone else without playing the race card.”
“I see this all the time and many well know people of color agree with this, but are subsequently called Uncle Tom. All I want to see is equality also, but watch the reverse that has taken hold here in this country with the destruction of this countries history in the SOUTH AND OTHER STATES,” he wrote. “Right or wrong it is the History of this Country.”
Annunziata in his email asked “where is the protest” for police officers murdered nationwide and also mentioned the Confederate flag, saying that prohibiting someone from displaying it is a First Amendment violation.
“Mr. mayor how many officers need to be hurt before you speak out,” he wrote, addressing Schember.
“The ‘deep state’ media, reporters are responsible and the ‘radical’ liberal politicians are right behind them,” he added.
The email reportedly goes on to suggest without evidence that the Clinton Foundation and billionaire George Soros are funding Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movements.
Annunziata says that most citizens “do not understand compliance” and said officers strive to avoid confrontation, mentioning that Erie officer Richard Burchick was shot and killed in 1991 by a black man.
“Why are the facts ignored about the killing in this country and how small, the minute numbers of Police officers that kill a black man in the line of duty?” Annunziata wrote.
The officer also comments on the protests that broke out in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death on May 25. Floyd, a black man, died in police custody after an officer, Derek Chauvin, was seen kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin and the other officers present have been terminated from the force and criminally charged.
“Why is the fact that the officer(s) in Minnesota are paying for their lack of judgment,” Annunziata wrote. “What gives the protesters the right to cause damage and disobey public order?”
The email also questioned why reporters “do not report on the officers in this city that were injured trying to protect what people have built. You as reporters have a responsibility to report the whole story not the part you want to report for your own satisfaction and that of unnecessary movements.”
The outlet noted that The Erie Times-News reported on city police officers that were injured during protests in late May.
The email was sent shortly before 7 p.m. on Monday, the same day that Schember announced that a police officer who kicked a seated protester would receive three days unpaid suspension and be required to undergo sensitivity training.
According to the city’s solicitor, Annunziata was not working when he sent the message.
Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny said he immediately placed the officer on suspension and launched an internal affairs investigation when he learned about the email.
“I speak for the command staff when I say that we are all sickened by the language of Mr. Annunziata,” Spizarny said.
The outlet reported that Annunziata was earning an annual base pay of $103,631 at the time of his termination.
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