Florida sheriff calls MLB's Rays Breonna Taylor tweet 'reckless'

Florida sheriff calls MLB's Rays Breonna Taylor tweet 'reckless'
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A sheriff in Pinellas County, Florida, on Thursday called out the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team after the team’s official Twitter account shared a message calling for the arrest of the Louisville, Ky., police officers who shot Breonna Taylor.

The team tweeted last week “Today is Opening Day, which means it's a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.”

 

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Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times that he called the team president, Matt Silverman, to criticize the tweet. He also said he would reevaluate whether the office will assist the team with traffic control, security and more. 

“To turn a baseball event into a political event is uncalled for,” Gualtieri told the outlet. “It’s just wrong, and it’s improper. It’s just reckless. It’s throwing gasoline on the fire, and it didn’t need to happen.”

Gualtieri claimed in a statement to The Hill that there was "more to the conversation" he had with Silverman than was reported by the Florida outlet. 

"The killing of Breonna Taylor was wrong and avoidable. We have policies at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office that would not allow that situation to occur. The facts show that Louisville officers acted under a judge’s warrant and were within department protocols," Gualtieri said. 

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The GOP sheriff said it was inappropriate for the team to weigh in on Taylor’s case if team officials “don’t know all the facts,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. Gualtieri claimed that Silverman said the tweet was not authorized by the upper management of the team.

St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway told the Tampa Bay Times that he too was “very concerned” about the message. However, Holloway said the tweet would not impact the police department’s willingness to assist the team at Rays games.

“I called the Rays organization and we had a long discussion,” Holloway told the outlet.

A Rays spokesperson said the team does not “comment on private conversations” and that the team is “grateful for the dialogue we continue to have with Sheriff Gualtieri and many other law enforcement personnel.”

Taylor, 26, was fatally shot in March in her Louisville home by three officers executing a no-knock search warrant. After the officers entered unannounced and did not identify themselves, Taylor’s boyfriend opened fire, and the three officers returned fire and killed her.

Taylor’s death has sparked nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice, alongside the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia earlier this year.  

The Hill has reached out to the St. Petersburg Sheriff’s Office and the Tampa Bay Rays for comment.

Updated at 7:50 a.m.