MENTONE, Ala. — A North Alabama police officer said he was placed on administrative leave following complaints about two social media posts, including one that mocks the late George Floyd.
Ross Greenwood, an officer with the Mentone Police Department, said he was put on leave pending the outcome of a termination hearing, AL.com reported. Greenwood said he was not told who complained about his posts, but Mentone Mayor Rob Hammond confirmed the administrative leave to the Fort Payne Times-Journal.
Greenwood said he shared two posts that received complaints. One, posted June 14, noted that the “Treasury Department will honor George Floyd by placing his portrait on the $20 counterfeit bill.” The second post, made on June 19 read, “Breaking News: Quaker Oats officially changes name to Shaquille O’atmeal.”
Floyd is the Minneapolis man who died May 25 after a police officer put his knee into the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Greenwood said he left the posts on his Facebook page because he wanted to be transparent, the Times-Journal reported. He said he does not believe he did anything wrong, and said he “absolutely” enforces the law equally.
Hammond said Mentone Police Chief Gene McKee met with town attorney Pat Tate to discuss his investigation, the Times-Journal reported.
“It is the Town’s contention that these postings are a violation of the Mentone Police Department’s code of conduct,” Hammond told the newspaper, adding a termination hearing would be held “within the next 10 days.”
Greenwood, who has been with the Mentone Police Department, previously was the chief of police in nearby Sylvania.
“In my opinion, (Floyd) was a criminal. He’s sure made a name for himself,” Greenwood told the Times-Journal, adding he was unhappy with the news of several products changing their branding because they play off racial stereotypes.
“A lot of this has gotten way out of hand,” Greenwood told the newspaper. “What’s the standard of what we can share on social media? I’ve never targeted or threatened to kill anyone.”
“If some radical Christian shot up a church, I’d share a story about that as much as I would if a radical Muslim did,” Greenwood told the Times-Journal. “I’m prejudiced against people who do stupid things. I can’t help what race you are when you mess up. I do post a lot of stuff about minorities and may post some stuff that looks racist, but there’s got to be some standard. Innocent people are getting killed.”
Greenwood said he had asked for a copy of the police department’s social media policy but never received it, AL.com reported. He also said he never signed any papers documenting that he agreed to any department social media policy.
“There’s something on Facebook that’s going to offend somebody,” Greenwood told AL.com. “There’s posts going around of police officers getting their throats cut. That offends me. But I don’t get out of shape. I just think, ‘Wow, that’s pretty rough.’”