Kentucky Police Officer Fired for Leaking Information to BLM
The Lexington-Fayette Urban City Council fired a police officer for leaking information about fellow officers to Black Lives Matter protestors “that could be used to insult, intimidate and harass our officers while they were working the protests.” After a nine-hour hearing and two hours of deliberations, Officer Jervis Middleton was relieved of his duties.
Middleton, who is black, was accused of misconduct, sharing internal police information, and dishonesty about his communication with BLM protest leader Sarah Williams. A unanimous vote by the city council found the officer guilty of the first two charges, but not guilty of the third.
Middleton initially denied that he had given any information to Williams, reportedly a friend of his, but then admitted to the leak of information after text messages were obtained through a search warrant.
This wasn’t Middleton’s first issue with the city’s police force. Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers agreed with the firing of the officer over several policy violations and also brought to light that Middleton had been demoted for a formal complaint made against him. Weathers said, "He was accused of using police computers to get information about a woman who had accused him of stalking and spying on her after their sexual relationship ended.”
"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."
Middleton challenged his termination with a defense saying that the information he gave to Williams did not jeopardize his fellow officers and was free speech. Lawyers for the officer said that he faced racial taunts and discrimination from his colleagues and that his complaints were brushed off, complaints the police department’s leaders denied ever hearing about.
Where there’s an issue of racism in question, you can count on having either Reverend Al Sharpton or the left-wing ACLU swooping in to be involved…or both. Although there’s no sign of the reverend yet, the Kentucky ACLU wasted no time to jump in on the matter.
“The ACLU of Kentucky is concerned (the) Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council fired Officer Jervis Middleton amidst longstanding calls for a radical transformation of policing and transparent relationships with the public,” said Executive Director Michael Aldridge. “While Officer Middleton’s actions may warrant some level of disciplinary action, it is particularly concerning he was more swiftly investigated and harshly punished for sharing non-critical information than officers who use excessive force against protesters or create the culture of racism and hostility Middleton reported to no avail.”
The ACLU agreed with Middleton’s defense that the information being shared didn’t put any of his fellow officers’ lives in danger. They claimed that the information being shared between police and protestors is necessary.
“Simply put, protest organizers should know whether and under what circumstances SWAT units (or other militarized police) will be deployed,” Aldridge said. “Clear channels of communication and shared expectations make tense situations safer for police, protesters, and bystanders. Why does LFUCG feel that this information is so dangerous if shared?”
One of Middleton’s lawyers, Keith Sparks, said, “The only harm is imagined harm.”