A Cleveland school police officer has been placed on administrative leave after he posted a series of inflammatory statements on Facebook that referred to Tamir Rice’s mother as a “stupid b**ch.”
Matthew Cicero, who has worked as a Cleveland Metropolitan School District resource officer for five years, posted the comments several days after prosecutors declined to indict officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot and killed Rice within seconds of encountering the 12-year-old at a public park in November 2014. Officers did not administer first aid to the boy, and he died the next day.
Cicero works for the same school district “that served Tamir Rice and his family,” police said.
Cicero’s posts have been deleted along with his entire Facebook page, but ABC-affiliate WEWS captured images of them. Cicero began his rant by blaming Samaria Rice of being a bad parent under an emoji that said “feeling annoyed,” according to screenshots posted by the station.
“Tamir rices momma just want money,” he wrote. “Lets make the proper changes……raise your kids not to play with fake guns stupid b**ch. All this media because the are notgetting what they want…… Again pleeeeze anyone who does not like what I post…..unfriendly me or block me your not worth my time”
Another Facebook user pushed back, asking Cicero when a 12-year-old playing with a toy gun became “a solid platform for the death penalty?”
“This officer regardless of race was negligent and should be brought to justice for negligent homicide,” a Facebook user named Wendy Smith said.
Cicero responded: “You pull out a gun you get shot. I don’t have time to ask questions and coddle kids that wave guns around.”
The officer, who spends his days watching over children, also posted a meme, according to an image captured by WEWS. The photo shows a man holding a real gun and a fake gun.
Reached by WEWS, Cicero declined to comment.
Video showing WEWS investigative reporter Sarah Buduson questioning Lester Fultz, CMSD chief of safety and security — about Cicero’s comments on Monday, shows Fultz walking away and refusing to answer Buduson’s questions.
Later that day, WEWS reported, a CMSD spokesman sent the station a detailed statement addressing the Facebook posts. The statement said the department was aware of Cicero’s “alleged” posts and had placed the officer on leave while the incident was being investigated:
“While we respect every employee’s right to freedom of speech, with those rights comes a responsibility to do so in ways that are appropriate and sensitive to others, particularly to the people we serve,” the statement said.
“CEO Eric Gordon, who on December 30 cautioned all CMSD staff members to show respect for feelings on both sides of this difficult issue, said the hurtful comments in the alleged post are contrary to his expectation that staff will promote peace and understanding among those who disagree about or who struggle to make sense of this tragedy.
“ ‘The comments posted are particularly insensitive, considering that Officer Cicero works for the school district that served Tamir Rice and his family,’ said CEO Eric Gordon. ‘Even as we grieve the tragic loss of this child to his family and to our entire school community, we are mindful of the very difficult job of our safety forces in our schools and our communities. Neither our citizens nor those who police our communities should be painted with a broad brush, and I don’t believe we will ever find solutions to such complex issues through Facebook posts — especially posts that further divide us.’ ”
Cleveland City Council member Jeff Johnson told WEWS that Cicero’s posts show he’s unfit for his job and should be terminated.
“It’s disrespectful to women, it’s disrespectful to African Americans,” he said. “The fact that he’s so insensitive and he’s placing the blame of Tamir’s death on Tamir, for me that’s enough for him to be not working with children in the Cleveland school system.”