A Hoover, Alabama, police officer was fired Friday after he shared a photo of an armed Black protester with a rifle's crosshairs superimposed over the picture. The officer shared a picture used by Atlanta station WSB-TV as the headline image for an article on armed protesters gathering outside the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed by a White police officer on June 12. Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis called the post "disturbing" after he was made aware of it on Wednesday.
The officer, Ryan Snow, shared the WSB-TV image with the rifle scope crosshairs added over the Black protester, seen carrying a rifle. "Armed protesters remain at Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed. So what’s next?" was the original story's headline. Snow wrote in response, "Exhale. Feel. Pause. Press steadily. That’s what’s next," reports AL.com.
Derzis said when he first saw the post, he was "sickened" and said it did not reflect the standards of the department. "It certainly did not adhere to the standards expected of every officer who wears our uniform," he said Friday. Snow, who worked for the Hoover police for over four years, admitted he published the post. He was first put on administrative leave and had 48 hours to respond to the charges. After Snow responded, Deris fired him.
"This type of conduct will not be tolerated in our department and is not representative of the professionalism expected by all of our officers," Derzis explained. "We’re not going to allow one officer to tarnish the reputation of the Hoover Police Department."
Activist Carlos Chaverst, president of the Birmingham Justice League, called on the Hoover Police Department to "implement real policy changes to ensure this doesn't happen again" and the firing of one police officer was not enough. "Hoover Police Department show time and time again they have no regard for Black lives. Their officers continue to show disrespect to the movement and what we are protesting for," Charverst told AL.com. "We appreciate Hoover Police for acting swiftly, but firing an officer isn’t enough."
Chaverst previously organized protests against the department over the death of Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr. Bradford was shot and killed by an officer at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover on Nov. 22, 2018. Bradford was killed when police officers responded to a shooting allegedly committed by someone else at the mall and he was carrying a legally-owned weapon at the time. Following an investigation, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the officer who killed Bradford was justified in his actions and did not take the case to a grand jury, ABC News reported in February 2019. In November, Bradford's family filed a lawsuit against the officer, whose name was never made public.