A Montgomery County township is investigating whether one of its officers left a racist comment on the website of the attorney representing the family of Walter Wallace Jr., the West Philadelphia man shot and killed Monday by Philadelphia police.
The comment was submitted Thursday through an online contact form included on the website for attorney Shaka M. Johnson’s law firm. The fields of the form asking for a name and contact information were filled out with the name, email address, and phone number of an officer working for the East Norriton Police Department.
It remains unclear, however, if the officer actually wrote the comment, or if someone else used his name. East Norriton Police Chief Brandon Pasquale said in an interview Friday that the officer vehemently denies writing the slur. An initial investigation by the department determined that the message was not sent from the township’s email server, he added.
“You can enter anyone’s email address or anyone’s name; you can enter whatever you want,” Pasquale said. “We haven’t even confirmed that it is authentic, so that’s what we’re working on now.”
The Inquirer is not naming the officer because the investigation is ongoing.
Jessica Mann, a partner at Johnson’s law firm, shared the comment Thursday on her personal Instagram page.
“If we find out he wasn’t the one who sent it, we will retract that statement,” Mann said, referring to her public social media post. “But if he was the one who sent it, Montgomery County has a problem it needs to deal with.
“This officer does deal with the Black and brown community, and if he feels this way about a prominent attorney, how does he feel about people he deals with every day?” she added.
East Norriton is a township of about 14,000 residents, 80% of whom are white, according to data from the U.S. Census. It is located directly northeast of Norristown, Montgomery County’s seat.
East Norriton Township Manager Bob Hart said his office will cooperate with the investigation, and determine what action to take at its conclusion. “And where the evidence leads us is where we will go,” he said.