SAVANNAH, GA – Five Savannah Police officers were reportedly fired in connection with the suicide of a 60-year-old man who was inside of an interview room at police headquarters back in early April.
Reportedly two of the terminations were directly linked to the suicide, whereas the other three terminations were due to an inappropriate message/image shared in a group chat that made reference to the in-custody death.
Five Georgia officers fired after a 60-year-old man died by suicide while alone in a police interview room. https://t.co/TlbgoXSjGJ
— ABC News (@ABC) June 16, 2021
On April 3rd, Savannah Police had taken 60-year-old William Harvey to police headquarters for questioning in regard to an aggravated assault investigation, according to officials.
Officers reportedly left Harvey alone inside the interview room and came back to find the man unconscious, reportedly with apparent neck injuries caused by the man’s shoe laces.
Harvey was later pronounced deceased, which the Georgia Bureau of Investigation ruled his death a suicide. Police officials say that there is no footage available from the interview room where Harvey reportedly died.
The four officers that were connected to the incident were placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which led to the termination of a Savannah Police corporal and a sergeant.
However, later in April, the Savannah Police’s professional standards unit opened had opened up a second investigation linked to an officer sending “an inappropriate meme/GIF attached” to other officers in a group chat that made reference to the in-custody suicide of Harvey.
According to reports when the investigation into the inappropriate image/GIF was opened, the GIF was specifically described as depicting a black man hanging himself.
Savannah Police officials confirmed on June 14th that three other police personnel were fired over the group chat message, specifically a sergeant, a corporal and an officer.
Reportedly four out of the five officers fired between the two matters had appealed their terminations, which police officials say that their terminations were upheld.
— wtoc11 (@WTOC11) June 14, 2021
Savannah Mayor Van Johnson issued a statement regarding the in-custody death of Harvey, as well as the disciplinary action doled out regarding his suicide:
“I am devastated that Mr. William Harvey died while under the care, custody and control of the Savannah Police Department.
“While we cannot provide justice for the Harvey family, we can ensure accountability for the policies we did not follow and the actions we did not take.
“I do not believe that there was malicious intent on the part of the officers involved, but the result was deadly. And for that, I believe the decision to terminate was appropriate.”
Both the mayor and Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter have personally met with Harvey’s family twice following his death, with Chief Minter saying the following about the matter:
“I hope and pray that [Harvey’s family] find some type of comfort knowing the Savannah Police Department did what we had to do to hold members of our organization accountable.
“I don’t think any of these officers had any malicious intent in what they did, but they made some poor decisions and didn’t follow department policy and procedure.”
Attorneys representing the family of Harvey say the family is appreciative of the swift actions taken by Savannah Police officials, but say that the family is still seeking justice for their loved one.
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In other reports pertaining to officers terminated over instances of alleged misconduct, Law Enforcement Today reported back in May about the firing of the deputy marshal who gained national attention after mocking LeBron James in a viral TikTok video.
Here’s that previous report.
BELLEVUE, ID – In an unexpected update pertaining to the Deputy Marshal who mocked LeBron James in a viral TikTok video, city officials report that Deputy Marshal Nate Silvester has been fired from the Bellevue Marshals office.
Idaho deputy who posted viral TikTok video mocking LeBron James fired from his job https://t.co/JwHenWo8t0
— KTVB.COM (@KTVB) May 27, 2021
According to a Facebook post from the official page for the city of Bellevue, Deputy Marshal Silvester has allegedly “violated several” policies during the week of May 20th after having been “placed on probation” in what his superior officers referred to as a “last chance agreement”:
“During the week of May 20th, while on shift Deputy Marshal Silvester violated several clearly established City of Bellevue and State of Idaho Policing policies.
After his previous policy violations Deputy Marshal Silvester was placed on probation and was on, what is called, a “last chance agreement” with his superior officers. Because of his continued policy violations, the Marshal has terminated Mr. Sylvester effective May 27th, 2021.”
According to the statement released by the city, the firing of Deputy Marshal Silvester was not related to “the tone or the tenor of his speech that he posts online,” but was terminated “for his failure to follow clearly laid out and well established policy.”
The Facebook post, which was signed by Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns, noted that the decision was reached “solely” by officials within the Bellevue Marshals office and city officials played no role in Deputy Marshal Silvester’s firing:
“The decision was solely made by the command structure within the Bellevue Marshals office and was not influenced in any way by me or by the City Council. We were informed of the decision, and as in the previous incident, left the final decision making to the Marshal and Deputy Marshal.”
Mayor Burns stated in the post that both he and the City Council “respect the way” that the Marshal runs the department, voicing their support of the firing of Deputy Marshal Silvester:
“The City Council and I respect the way the Marshal runs her department, and we are supportive of the decision that was made in regards to consequences for not following policy. We wish Mr. Silvester the best, and we ask for calm and understanding.”
BREAKING: Idaho deputy who posted viral TikTok video about LeBron James has been fired.
— Art TakingBack 🇺🇸 (@ArtValley818_) May 27, 2021
Despite Mayor Ned Burns proclaiming that this termination was reached “solely” by command staff within the Bellevue Marshals office, an update from the GoFundMe account established after Silvester was first placed on leave notes skepticism about the official reasons for the termination:
“DEPUTY MARSHAL NATE SILVESTER HAS BEEN TERMINATED, OFFICIALLY THIS MORNING. Officially, for ‘violating several clearly established City of Bellevue and state of Idaho policing policies.’”
“Unofficially, as I stated originally, Bellevue mayor Ned Burns has been gunning for Nate’s termination since his Lebron James TikTok went viral. We have heard through the grape vine this is coming down the pipes, it was only a matter of time, and they were just looking for a reason to terminate him.”
News of Silvester’s termination comes mere weeks after he had been reinstated after being placed on a brief suspension period for the viral TikTok video uploaded back in April.
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