MPD officer fired for violating social media policy in connection with Sterling Brown case, chief says
Updated: 4:52 p.m. September 13, 2018
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A Milwaukee Police Officer involved in the tasing and arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown has been fired.
Chief Alfonso Morales said the officer, Erik Andrade, violated the department's social media policy and that the comments the officer made had a racist connotation and were derogatory. He also admits the officer mocked Sterling Brown who was the subject of use of force.
Chief Morales says he struggled with the decision. The officer was fired sometime in the last 24 hours.
The Bucks player filed a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee and the Police Department for his arrest in January when he was tased. The suit calls out the officer for joking about the incident on social media just a few hours after the arrest.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales released the following statement Thursday afternoon about the officer's termination:
"Police Officer Erik Andrade has been terminated by the Milwaukee Police Department as a result of images and statements posted to a social media account. According to our Standard Operating Procedure, members are free to express themselves as private citizens on social media to the degree that their speech is not disruptive to the mission of the Department. However, speech, on or off duty, pursuant to members’ official duties and professional responsibilities is not protected.
I find that Officer Andrade’s postings are in direct violation of such policy. They have a racist connotation and are derogatory, mocking an individual who was recently the subject of officers’ use of force. Such comments also directly affect his credibility and ability to testify in future hearings as a member of this Department. I have not, and will not, tolerate such behavior."
"This is unfortunate, and what I mean by that is, firing somebody is very serious from a profession such as this," Chief Morales said. "It's going to affect you getting a job somewhere else, but at the same time, for me, one of the most important functions of a police officer is to be able to testify in court and if you can't testify in court, that's one function that I can't utilize you."
Chief Morales went on to say the Sterling Brown incident set the department back. It shows law enforcement has to do better.
Brown's attorney Mark Thomsen says he hasn't spoken with anyone from the city and only confirmed the firing after CBS 58 called him this afternoon.
He says this does not change anything when it comes to Sterling Brown's lawsuit against the city, other than the fact that it helps his case.
Thomsen actually expected action months ago and says the fact that the officers who were involved in the actual incident still have their jobs means more needs to be done. He says the Brown case is a unique opportunity for the city to make real change and so far they haven't.
"Mr. Brown's given the city every advantage to take the first step to do something unique and historic and on behalf of Mr. Brown, we're still sitting here waiting for that to happen," Sterling Brown's attorney Mark Thomsen said.
Thomsens says the police union has a decision to make.
Posted: 12:53 p.m. September 13, 2018
The firing happened in the last 24 hours.
The Police Chief says, however, that the officer was "not involved in the initial incident."
Morales says this firing stemmed from a violation of the department's social media policy.
Morales also admitted the department made some mistakes in the Sterling Brown incident.
The Police Chief appeared at Marquette Law School for "On the Issues" Thursday afternoon where he spoke briefly about the case.
Stay with CBS 58 News for more information on this developing story.