Remember when you could share a thought or describe your day, and it was simply that, just you sharing your thoughts about your day? Apparently, that is no longer how society works.
A St. Louis police officer is being accused of misconduct after the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a Facebook post of his description of a particularly violent shift. That post ended with an impassioned plea for people to contact state officials to ask them to support police officers.
“If you’re appalled as I am over the events this past summer, write your state politicians,” Officer Ryan Lynch wrote. “We need backing here in the city. We need to be able to do our job fully. I’m tired of seeing dead babies.”
Lynch wrote the Facebook post on Aug. 23. It detailed a very specific shift. During that day, an armed 16-year-old led police on a chase that started in East St. Louis, a large fight led to the fatal shooting of an 8-year-old after a football scrimmage at a local high school.
All the while, the radio was lit up with the call of the funeral procession for an Illinois State Police trooper recently killed in the line of duty.
Lynch wrote that he had arrested two at the football game. When he thought everyone had cleared the area, shots rang out.
“Next thing I know, I’m holding the hand of a 16-year-old as he begs me not to let him die. The 8-year-old wasn’t that lucky. The city gave us its worst tonight and I’m just appalled,” Lynch wrote.
The Post-Dispatch’s editorial page editor, Tod Robberson, asked Lynch for permission to publish an edited version of the post as an opinion piece about a week later.
“It’s all too rare for the St. Louis public to read about these tragedies through the eyes of our first responders and to get a glimpse of the impact these horrific shootings have on the officers at the scene,” Robberson said.
On Aug. 29, Lt. William Brown of the internal affairs division accused Lynch of “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” according to a misconduct report obtained by the Post-Dispatch.
“It is alleged that Police Officer Ryan Lynch … prepared an article that was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Aug. 28, 2019,” according to the report.
Here’s the deal folks. Lynch’s Facebook page is public. Anyone can see it. Yet somehow to Internal Affairs, his opinion is tantamount to conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Lynch’s attorney, Neil Bruntrager, and Police Chief John Hayden both declined to comment about the post. Police spokesman Sgt. Keith Barrett said the situation is a “personnel matter,” and the department does not comment on those matters.
Brown also alleged that Lynch violated a department mandate forbidding employees from speaking to news media without proper authorization.
“No information concerning confidential investigations or operations will be released without the expressed approval of the Police Commissioner,” Brown said in the misconduct report.
The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association filed a grievance this week on Lynch’s behalf, saying, that Lynch did not “prepare the article” for the newspaper and did not reveal any confidential information about any investigations. An employee’s political statements are statutorily protected, the grievance said.
Lynch’s post is below, in its entirety.
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How my day went. Day started with a vehicle pursuit, subjects pointed a gun at an East St. Louis copper and came to St. Louis in a stolen vehicle. A 16-year old armed with a pistol was the culprit. Luckily caught him with a foot pursuit and he attempted to toss the gun instead of using it on any officers in the area.
For the lack of a better word “riot” happens at Soldan High School during a football game and I personally have to arrest two. Aid call rings out, every car possible and helicopter responds.
While this nonsense is happening, I’m listening to the procession being called out for the ISP trooper who was being conveyed from SLU, to his final rest. Because a coward couldn’t face the justice that was due him.
Once the area clears out and I think, “well ok, we can leave”… shots ring out. Next thing I know, I’m holding the hand of a 16-year old as he begs me not to let him die. The 8-year old wasn’t that lucky.
The city gave us its worst tonight and I’m just appalled.
I’m not saying this for thanks or appreciation. I’m friends with cops mostly and this is what we do. If you’re appalled as I am over the events this past summer, write your State politicians. We need backing here in the City. We need to be able to do our job fully. I’m tired of seeing dead babies.
There is no doubt that we should all take responsibility for our speech and our conduct. Accountability is a must. Unless there is something else that Lynch posted as a follow up to this post that we have not been made privy to, I fail to see how this officer, whose speech is protected, committed an offense worthy of an IA investigation. Maybe I am wrong. If so, please enlighten me.