Lexington, KY – A Lexington police officer was fired for sharing internal information about police tactics and locations during the George Floyd riots with a Black Lives Matter leader.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council announced its decision to terminate Lexington Police Officer Jervis Middleton at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 19, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The decision came after a nine-hour police hearing followed by two hours of closed-door deliberations.
Officer Middleton was brought up on charges after Black Lives Matter protest leader Sara Williams was arrested during a protest in June of 2020 and investigators got a search warrant for her phone, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Keith Horn, an attorney for the city of Lexington, said text messages were discovered that showed Officer Middleton had provided Williams with staffing information, including requests for officers to work overtime at the protests.
An internal document from the Lexington Police Department summarized the accusations, WLEX reported.
“Officer Middleton also provided official Lexington Police Department law enforcement sensitive information via screen shots of text messages and emails that gave away information on tactics the agency was, or were, planning to use, when controlling the nightly protest.”
Horn also said that Officer Middleton told Williams what to do or say to specific police officers who would be working the protest line to antagonize them, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Officer Middleton lied when investigators confronted him about the text messages and claimed he hadn’t given any information to Williams.
Horn said the officer only told the truth after he was shown the messages police had found on the Black Lives Matter activist’s phone, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
“Officer Middleton’s conduct during a highly stressful and potentially vulnerable time during the history of our community — the most significant policing event in our community in 20 years — demonstrates that he should no longer be a police officer,” Horn told the county council during the hearing.
Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and an internal police disciplinary board recommended that Officer Middleton be terminated for sharing the internal information with protesters and for lying about it afterwards, FOX News reported.
Officer Middleton had recently faced internal disciplinary action after he was caught using department resources to look up the personal information of a former love interest, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
He was acquitted of official misconduct but was demoted from sergeant to officer in 2020.
“I felt like the discipline he received last time should have been a message to him and allow him to come back and become the officer that I know he can be,” Chief Weathers said. “After this, I just can’t see him coming back. To me, it was a violation of trust and a violation of the position of a police officer.”
“He was supposed to protect the public, but he should also protect his fellow officers,” the police chief added.
Officer Middleton had the right to appeal the decision to the county council and he did so, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Chief Weathers testified before the county council that Officer Middleton should be fired because his actions put officers’ lives in jeopardy.
“The allegations against Officer Middleton is that he provided information that could be used to insult, intimidate and harass our officers while they were working the protests,” Chief Weathers told the council. “Officers who were called out by name by those protesters were removed from their duty posts.”
Investigators testified that Officer Middleton had shared private police emails, texts, and call sheets with Williams.
The officer’s attorney argued that the Officer Middleton’s conversations with Williams were free speech and that he had every right to share that information with her, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
He said the officer was talking to Williams as a private citizen and that he wanted to see changes made to the Lexington Police Department.
Officer Middleton alleged he had repeatedly been the subject of racial harassment and discrimination, some of which he had brought to the attention of supervisors, but he had never filed an official complaint to have something done about it, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
He claimed he had been subjected to racial discrimination and taunts on multiple occasions since he joined the force in 2007.
But the first time Officer Middleton ever raised the concerns about discrimination was after he got in trouble for looking up his ex-girlfriend in the police database, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Chief Weathers, who is also black, testified that the department needed to make the complaint process clearer but said he would prefer it if the city’s human resources office would handle discrimination complaints instead of the Lexington Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit.
The city said it was investigating the discrimination allegations that surfaced the first time Officer Middleton faced discipline, but that had been put on hold while the latest matters were cleared up, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
Now-former Officer Middleton has 30 days to appeal his termination to the Fayette Circuit Court, but his attorney said he hasn’t made a decision on that yet.
The post Cop Fired For Leaking Police Tactical Info To Black Lives Matter Leader During Riots appeared first on The Police Tribune.
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Author: Sandy Malone
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