A San Jose police officer who posted tweets against protests alleging police misconduct in the deaths of unarmed black men last year has been fired, a police spokesman said today.
Officer Phillip White is no longer a city employee and police did not provide further details on the termination.
In December, White posted tweets on his personal Twitter account about protests that unfolded after grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men earlier in the year.
Two of the most notable deaths were of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and chokehold death of 43-year-old Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.
Protests were held around the Bay Area and nationwide that promoted the message, “Black Lives Matter.” Many of the demonstrations led to vandalism, blocked freeways, dumpster fires and other actions that led police to issue citations and make arrests.
One of the tweets read, “Threaten me or my family and I will use my God-given and law appointed right and duty to kill you.” Another tweet said, “By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun,” which referred to the chokehold death of Garner, who reportedly said “I can’t breathe,” a phrase widely repeated during the protests.
The Police Department, San Jose Police Officers’ Association and Mayor Sam Liccardo disapproved of the tweets and said his opinions did not reflect other officers.
White had served in a desk administrative role before he was placed on paid administrative leave in mid-December, police said.
He was also removed from Menlo College in Atherton where he was an assistant basketball coach, school officials said.
Dozens of community members called on White to be fired and protested outside police headquarters days after the officer was placed on leave.
The San Jose police internal affairs unit conducted an investigation into the matter that would then be sent to the city attorney’s office.
A call for comment from the city attorney’s office was not immediately returned today.