An officer in Cumberland County, New Jersey has been fired for making what is described as a racist social media post over the summer, NJ.com reports. Rome Smith, an officer with the county’s juvenile detention unit, made the Facebook comments in response to a five-year-old who was shot to death. Back in August, he received a suspension for his comments.
In August, 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant was allegedly shot to death by his 25-year-old neighbor in Wilson, North Carolina. Cannon was riding a bike outside of his father’s home and according to witnesses, Darius Sessoms walked up to the boy and shot him. Sessoms was arrested the following day and charged with first-degree murder.
According to NJ.com, Smith wrote that Cannon “should’ve ducked” and placed blame on the boy’s parents.
“Ya’ll always trying to sneak diss and discredit a black person being killed innocently by police. Blame cannon’s parents for not watching him,” Smith allegedly wrote, NJ.com reports.
Accusations of Racial Motivations
At the time, social media users claimed that the killing was racially motivated, according to NJ.com. Many noted that the victim was white and the alleged shooter was Black. Cannon’s family rejected these suggestions, saying Sessoms was a longtime neighbor.
Smith, who is Black, disabled his Facebook account shortly after being criticized for his post.
In a statement that did not identify Smith by name, officials wrote that an officer was suspended for their social media activity. They also condemned the comments as “shockingly insensitive and racist in tone.”
“We will not tolerate County employees using social media to broadcast hateful messages,” Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella told NJ.com at the time. “This is not who we are and we intend to pursue the strongest action available to us.”
After an internal investigation and disciplinary hearing, Smith was fired in September.
Rome Smith Facebook — Sources
NJ.com: N.J. detention officer suspended for saying 5-year-old killed in North Carolina ‘should’ve ducked’
NJ.com: N.J. detention officer fired for saying 5-year-old who was shot to death ‘should’ve ducked’