Gainesville, FL – Police have arrested a Florida man who allegedly threatened to injure or kill a Gainesville police officer in a series of Facebook posts (video below).
The incident began on Friday, when Gainesville Police Officer Robert “Bobby” White posted a video of his conversation with a young girl who was giving free lemonade to first responders at her lemonade stand, The Gainesville Sun reported.
As Officer White chatted with the smiling little girl, he learned that she was trying to raise money to help offset the costs of her cheerleading tryouts in order to ease the financial burden on her parents, the video showed.
“I know you’re all famous and everything, you were on the news last night,” Officer White told her, just before he encouraged other first responders to come support her effort. “I’m super-duper proud of you for…having the initiative to do this.”
“Don’t forget that even though the lemonade is free, you could always leave a tip,” he wrote in the video caption, which was posted on the Basketball Cop Foundation page.
The lighthearted and inspirational post turned dark, however, when someone began making hateful and threatening comments beneath the video.
“This is a beautiful thing,” 29-year-old William Eugene Caudle posted in a comment below the video, according to The Gainesville Sun. “Just think it’s sad that 1 of the dirtiest cops in Gainesville is in the video. Robert is a piece of trash.”
“To the guy I let go with a warning for a bag of weed,” Officer White replied in the comments. “That won’t happen again.”
Caudle then lashed out at the officer in a series of posts, police said.
“To the crooked police officer I will dome check you,” he allegedly wrote, referring to a term used to describe shooting or hitting a person in the head. “Watch your mouth. I know how to catch up with you outta uniform. Don’t think you can’t be touched. You don’t want smoke with me.”
According to police, Caudle then posted two identical comments, which read, “And crooked cops die Robert White.”
Officer White reported the threats to his department and said he feared for the safety of him and his family, The Gainesville Sun reported.
Investigators matched Caudle’s Facebook photo with one they had on file and placed him under arrest on Saturday.
He has been charged with making electronic written threats to kill or injure, and was being held at the Alachua County jail on a $50,000 bond.
Officer White became famous in his community in January of 2016, when he responded to a call about kids playing basketball “loudly” in the street, the department said in a Facebook post.
Dashcam footage showed Officer White as he approached a young man who was holding a basketball and informed him about the complaint. Then he let him know he didn’t have a problem with their game.
The officer then took the man’s basketball and tossed it towards a hoop erected on the opposite side of the street.
He missed, but the young man quickly jumped forward to catch the rebound, then passed the ball back to Officer White.
As the officer sank his second shot, more teens joined in on the impromptu street game.
Officer White even dunked the ball at one point, eliciting a burst of cheers from the group.
“Alright guys, I’m going to go,” he said after a while. “Just do me a favor. Obviously, I have no problem with you playing basketball in the street, just if you can, try not to be too loud, you know what I mean?”
The kids agreed, and Officer White turned to walk back to his patrol vehicle.
“Have fun,” he added. “I’d rather see you all doing this than out there causing problems.”
He also promised he would try to return with “backup” for another game, the video showed.
The department supported Officer White’s interaction with the teens and the incident became the catalyst for the creation of the Basketball Cop Foundation.
According to the nonprofit’s Facebook page, the group works to build relationships between law enforcement officers and youth across the country by hosting community events, basketball games, ice cream socials, and block parties.
You can watch Officer White’s lemonade stand interview, as well as his impromptu basketball game, in the videos below: