Boston, MA – A Massachusetts State Police (MSP) trooper has been suspended without pay, after he was accused of making racist posts on an online forum.
However, many on social media seem confused why his comments are being labeled as racist.
MSP Trooper Matthew Sheehan, 49, had already been placed on paid administrative leave, in accordance with department policy, after he discharged his weapon during a Feb. 24 incident involving 25 to 30 ATV and dirt bike riders, the Boston Herald reported.
Officers attempted to stop the “erratic and dangerous” riders after they began weaving in and out of traffic and driving against oncoming vehicles on the interstate at approximately 5 p.m., The Republican reported.
Trooper Sheehan fired a rifle during the incident, although it was unclear as to whether or not the bullet struck one of the riders, 28-year-old Aderito Monteiro.
After he finally complied with officers’ orders to lie down on the ground, Monteiro began to complain that his foot had been injured. MSP investigators said they have not yet determined whether his injury was caused by the round from Trooper Sheehan’s rifle, or by some other means.
Nearly 20 motorcycles and ATVs were seized at the scene, although some riders were able to evade police, The Republican reported. Seven of the suspects were charged.
The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office’s standard internal investigation into the incident is ongoing.
A second investigation into Trooper Sheehan was opened after a series of posts were discovered on an online forum, called MassCops. Sheehan allegedly made posted under the username of “Big Irish,” the Boston Globe reported.
The Boston Globe determined that many of Trooper Sheehan’s posts, which began in 2012, were “racist,” and other news outlets quickly perpetuated the claim.
“Glad the Trooper is ok and went home safe to his family,” Big Irish wrote on July 21, 2012, in response to a post detailing the officer-involved shooting of a man who refused commands to stop driving his vehicle at a trooper. “Note to f*****g scumbags!!!! ‘You try and run us over and you will die!!!! Good shoot ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!!”
“If you throw a bottle at me you will need 2 things (1) A real good dentist (for obvious reasons) and (2) A phsical therapist AFTER you start walking again,” he commented, in regards to a 2013 gathering where a crowd 500 unruly people blocked a street and threw beer bottles and cans at police who attempted to disperse them.
“How about obey the law, don't steal anything and don't behave like a fucking douche bag C**T!!!” he posted in 2015, in relation to an article about a woman who spit on an officer, then accused him of being racist. “The T cop was just doing his job investigating a possible robbery. He drew his weapon because the other scum on the bus with you were approaching. Maybe somebody should have helped him out instead of filming the scene with their Obama Phones!!! Thank God the cop was black!! Watch your backs out folks!!”
Many of the posts contained vulgar language, no-nonsense descriptions, and strong pro-police opinions.
The second internal investigation was launched on Wednesday, the Boston Herald reported.
“The tone and nature of these posts are repugnant and clearly do not reflect the values, ideals and opinions of the Massachusetts State Police,” MSP director of media communications Dave Procopio said in a statement. “We have opened an Internal Affairs investigation. Trooper Sheehan is currently on a standard administrative leave as the result of his role in a shooting incident on Saturday.”
“The Department will hold an internal hearing on Friday to determine his duty status while the investigation is conducted,” Procopio continued. “Depending on the outcome of that hearing, Trooper Sheehan faces a potential change in his duty status for the duration of the investigation, up to and including being suspended without pay. When the investigation is completed, the Department will take further action as warranted by the results.”
Trooper Sheehan’s patrol vehicle, “use-of-force equipment, and other department-issued equipment” were seized by the department, Procopio added.
Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker weighed in on the situation on Thursday, and declared that, if the trooper wrote the comments on the MassCops website, his employment should be terminated.
“If those posts were issued by someone who is a member of the state police, they’re clearly a violation of code of conduct and he or she should be fired,” Baker said.
Trooper Sheehan was suspended without pay following the hearing on Friday.