Seattle, WA – A King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) captain must serve one day of unpaid leave for using the word “animals” in a social media post.
KCSO Captain Todd Miller shared a photo in April of 2020 showing a group of black New York teens beating a black teen girl and robbing her, KING reported.
“Animals. This is what the inner city gives us these days,” Capt. Miller captioned the image.
The captain, who is also an adjunct sociology professor, later told internal investigators that the post was intended “to spark conversation about the socio-economic issues existing in American inner cities,” KING reported.
KCSO Internal Affairs Unit Sergeant Tim Meyer said while interviewing Capt. Miller, Sgt. Meyer spoke about the “historical context of the word ‘animal’…especially with persons from the African American community,” according to the Associated Press.
Capt. Miller vehemently denied that his comment was racist, but acknowledged others might disagree.
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht ultimately determined Capt. Miller’s actions were “serious violations of the core values” of the KCSO with regards to public confidence and respect, the Associated Press reported.
She said he also violated the department’s social media policy.
Since he made the post while off duty, Sheriff Johanknecht exonerated Capt. Miller on allegations that he engaged in bigotry, harassment, discrimination, or incivility, the Associated Press reported.
The sheriff issued her findings on Feb. 11.
“As written your use of the word ‘animals’ is most reasonably interpreted to be a statement about the people involved, which includes their race,” Sheriff Johanknecht wrote. “The use of that word ‘animals’ in connection with a post depicting black people sends the offensive message and negative reference to all black people whether living in the inner-city or not.”
She said that even though Capt. Miller didn’t intend to make a negative comment about black people, he should have known better, the Associated Press reported.
“It was poor judgment given your rank, level of command and knowledge of the current social climate regarding racial inequity and social justice,” Sheriff Johanknecht declared.
She said Capt. Miller would be punished with one day of unpaid suspension due to the “very offensive and racist” post, the Associated Press reported.