A police officer in Kentucky was fired Friday after allegedly leaking information about other officers to Black Lives Matter organizers.
Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and an internal police disciplinary board had recommended Middleton’s firing over several policy violations for sharing department information and for allegedly lying about it. He had also been demoted recently for a separate complaint related to accusations he used department resources to look up information about a woman he had once been romantically involved with, according to the newspaper. “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,” 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.”
Keith Horn, a lawyer for the city, said during opening arguments that Middleton told Williams what to say to some officers during protests in May and June and sent her some staffing information, including that police were looking for officers to work overtime to work the protests. “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,” said Horn. At first, Middleton denied he had given the information to Williams and only admitted it after being shown text messages from Williams’ phone, which police obtained through a search warrant, Horn said. Middleton’s lawyers argued he shouldn’t be fired because in their view the information he shared with Williams didn’t jeopardize officers’ safety and it should be considered free speech [FOX].
Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and an internal police disciplinary board recommended officer Jervis Middleton be fired for violating several department policies for providing information — including details about officers working during the protest — to Black Lives Matter protest leader Sarah Williams, a friend of Middleton’s. Chief Weathers testified Middleton should be fired because he put his fellow officers in jeopardy during the protests, which went on for 59 nights during the summer. “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,” Weathers said. Officers who were called out by name by those protesters were removed from their duty posts, Weathers said. Middleton was accused of overall misconduct, sharing internal police information and for being dishonest about his communication with Williams. The council unanimously found him guilty of the first two administrative charges but not guilty of the third charge.
Middleton, who is Black, also claimed he had been racially discriminated against at the department by other officers but the department had not investigated his claims, WLKY-TV of Louisville reported. He alleged, in one of several examples, another officer had called him a “token boy” during a police event but had not been disciplined over it. Weathers said he will make the process for filing a complaint clear in the future. Weathers added that while he understood Middleton’s concerns, it didn’t justify breaking the department’s information-sharing policies. He said race was not a factor in the recommendation to fire him [Lexington Herald Leader].
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE BLAZE