7 Philly cops whose Facebook posts were flagged in database scandal have resigned
Some of the offensive posts from Philadelphia police officers
Capt. Sekou Kinebrew, a police spokesperson, said labor law restrictions prevented him from confirming whether those seven officers were among the 13 whom Police Commissioner Richard Ross said on July 18 would be fired following 30-day suspensions.
The officers and their resignation dates are: Officer Jesus Cruz, July 18; Officer Anthony Acquaviva, Officer Robert Bannan and Cpl. Thomas Young, July 19; Officer Joseph Fox and Sgt. Michael Melvin, July 22; and Officer Edward McCammitt, July 23.
Attempts to reach the seven former officers Wednesday were not successful. John McNesby, president of Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, declined to comment on the resignations, FOP spokesperson Mike Neilon said Wednesday.
The union previously said that it believed any firings over the Facebook postings would be “completely out of bounds.”
The scandal has attracted national attention. In announcing the intended firings — the largest number of officers dismissed at one time in recent city history — Ross stood alongside Mayor Jim Kenney and said an additional 56 officers would face disciplinary actions ranging from a reprimand to a 30-day unpaid suspension.
It was the most significant response yet to the publication on June 1 of the Plain View Project, a database compiled by advocates that catalogs Facebook posts allegedly made by officers in Philadelphia and seven other jurisdictions: York, Pa.; Phoenix; Dallas; St. Louis; Twin Falls, Idaho; Denison, Texas; and Lake County, Fla.
The database included posts from about 330 active Philadelphia cops, far more than the other departments analyzed by the advocates. In June, about 150 people protested outside Police Headquarters, saying they wanted all city officers included in the database to be benched, if not fired.
In his announcement July 18, Ross appeared to refer to a May 2016 post by Cruz, who shared on his Facebook page a TV news story about officers breaking up a fight in Philadelphia and wrote atop his post: “F—ing animals, he should of split his wig....”
Cruz was flagged by the Plain View Project as having made 36 questionable posts, including 29 that showed bias and eight that allegedly supported, advocated, or referenced violence. His 2018 salary was $78,337, according to city payroll records.
Acquaviva in November 2015 shared a post by another officer that showed a picture of a bearded Muslim man with these words (in the post, in all capital letters): “All I want to do is move to your country, rape your women, bomb your buses, riot in your streets and demand that you accept my religion. Why can’t you be more tolerant?”
Acquaviva was flagged by the Plain View Project as having made 17 questionable posts, 14 of which showed bias and four that allegedly supported, advocated, or referenced violence. His 2018 salary was $78,337, according to city payroll records.
Melvin — writing under the alias Michael Vincent — had 35 posts and five comments listed in the database. In a June 2017 post, Melvin called Muslims “sub-human mutts” and accused them of celebrating during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In a January post, Melvin suggested that police officers are not working as a form of protest. “If you listen closely you can hear Police cars all through the city being placed in park. Let it burn,” wrote Melvin, whose salary in 2018 was $88,772, according to city payroll records.
Fox, who according to city payroll records was paid $78,337, was flagged for 24 questionable posts. In November 2014, he captioned a photo of a woman whose face and head were covered with a Muslim burka: “Got some new targets for range day!”
The following month, he wrote: “Heard a great joke today. Who is the best Muslim? A dead one.”
Young, earning $86,170, had two posts and 16 comments in the database, bashing Islam as a “savage” and violent religion that should be banned in the United States and complaining that politicians prevent police from doing their jobs.
In October 2015, Young wrote: “It seems like the governments in almost every Western Nation has been infiltrated by treasonous vermin.” In July 2017, he wrote: “I hope the people of the West wake up to this Islamic Invasion before its too late?”
McCammitt, who according to city payroll records was making $78,726, was flagged for 23 questionable posts. In July 2017, he likened protesters to speed bumps. In July 2015, he shared a Right Wing News photo of a road sign that read: “In the U.S. you are free to live as you wish unless you’re white, straight, Republican, a gun owner or southern.”
Bannan, an officer who had been earning $78,726 a year, had 56 posts in the database, according to the Plain View Project.
On June 18, in response to publication of the database, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner added 22 names to a list of officers banned from bringing cases to her office, bringing the total to almost 60, roughly 5% of the department’s force of about 1,100 commissioned officers.
Gardner sent a letter to Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards and St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden saying that seven of the 22 officers were “permanently banned,” meaning her office won’t issue charges based on their investigations, won’t apply for search warrants they seek, and won’t consider cases in which they are essential witnesses.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner has said that his office also is evaluating whether to add cops in the database to an internal list of officers with credibility problems. Prosecutors sometimes use that list to limit or bar officers’ testimony.
Staff writer Nathaniel Lash contributed to this article.