Austin police detective suspended after inappropriate Facebook comments

On or about March 21, the Austin Police Department says Detective Jason Chiappardi posted comments on his alias Facebook page about the shooting of naked unarmed teen David Joseph. The comment reads quote:

"My family and friends are glad to hear that the high school dropout drug using, neighborhood terrorizing, naked guy will never scare anybody else again,"  he posted this shortly after Chief Art Acevedo indefinitely suspended Officer Geoffrey Freeman.

“He and Officer Freeman were friends and I think that he made his comments out of frustration and emotion at that time,” said Asst. Chief Brian Manley.

He also posted quote: " It's too (expletive) bad that the boss has no support for his officers. I hope he leaves soon," In reference to Chief Art Acevedo.

“These comments don't reflect the values of this department,” said Manley.

In a hearing Wednesday the department punished Chiappardi, a 17-year- department veteran with a three-day suspension without pay starting August 22nd. The Austin Police Association says Chiappardi may appeal.

“We look forward to doing the arbitration. Not because there wasn't an issue with what he said but we're interested in what an arbitrator would say about what First Amendment rights do officers have and not have,” said Ken Casaday, president of Austin Police Association.

When it comes to First Amendment rights, attorney Robert Ranco has played that ball game.

“He's not going to jail, because it's not illegal to say these things. But that doesn't protect anyone from repercussions at their jobs,” said Ranco.

Ranco says many see the First Amendment as a pass.

“It's a misconception that the First Amendment allows me to say whatever I want, whenever I want, to whomever I want,” said Ranco.

The Austin Police Department has a clear prohibited speech, expression and conduct policy. They can punish an officer for anything that jeopardizes their reputation.

“The young man who is now dead, the department, and the chief, everybody involved in this, all got thrown under the bus,” said Ranco.

Chiappardi has since, apologized to his boss and the rest of the department. He will return to duty with the robbery unit on Aug 25.


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