A California prosecutor will be placed on administrative leave as his office investigates offensive comments made on his social media accounts, the county district attorney announced on Monday.
Michael Selyem, who leads the Hardcore Gang Unit at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, is the subject of an internal investigation, according to a statement from District Attorney Mike Ramos, after reportedly targeting Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), former first lady Michelle Obama, immigrants and Mexicans in comments on his social media accounts.
“Being a loudmouthed . . . in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot” her by now, he wrote, in a much more explicit manner, according to the Sun.
Selyem also posted a fake picture of Michelle Obama holding a sign that said “Trump grabbed my penis,” the Sun wrote. The notion that Michelle Obama is a man is a smear that has grown in some conspiracy-theory-minded circles on the right.
Beneath a Breitbart article, he reportedly wrote: “I am all for white males immigrating here legally and starting a business. It is the terrorist a–holes sneaking in here wanting to kill me an[d] my family that I am opposed to.”
He also posted a picture of a man in a large sombrero with the caption: “Mexican word of the day: Hide.”
The posts came to the attention of Ramos’s office on June 28, the office said. Ramos said the office has received “more than several complaints,” and has been flooded with calls from around the country since the news was publicized. The Sun published its report on Friday. It was not clear exactly when Selyem would be placed on administrative leave. Ramos’s spokesman, Christopher Lee, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Ramos told reporters Monday that he was concerned about the effects the comments could have on the integrity of his office, citing a remark Selyem reportedly made online that a civilian who was shot by police “got exactly what he deserved.”
“I was offended by the comments,” Ramos said. “Not just as the district attorney, but as a prosecutor. And I think then further as the district attorney, I was really concerned with comments regarding officer-involved shootings. Because we handle those cases, as you know, on a daily basis.”
Selyem faces possible disciplinary action, including termination, Ramos said — a step for which some activists have already called. His caseload is being reassigned, Ramos said.
Ramos said he was bracing for potential motions and challenges to cases on which Selyem had worked.
“That was one of the other concerns we have,” he said. “There could be motions, motions in limine before trial about some of the comments, depending on other issues, racial biases et cetera because of the comments that were made.”
As of January, Selyem was working on a case in which a man was charged with murder after being accused of fatally punching a 70-year-old sheriff’s deputy in the face, according to a report on the case in the Sun.
Ramos said there is no evidence that any bias affected Selyem’s work for the office but said he had assigned an assistant to review the cases and had invited members of the public to come forward if they believed there was impropriety.
“We have had no prior indication Mr. Selyem had any type of bias regarding his cases,” Ramos said.
The San Bernardino County Public Attorneys Association, the union that represents prosecutors, did not answer a request for comment.
Messages left at phone numbers listed for Selyem in public records were not returned.