Nashville PD Fires Officer For Facebook Post, So He's Suing

A former Nashville cop sued his department for violating his constitutional rights when they fired him.

Nashville, TN – A now-former Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the city for violation of his First Amendment rights, after he was fired for a comment he made on social media about an officer-involved shooting.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, which was the same day that the Metro Civil Service Commission (MCSC) refused to reinstate him, the Nashville Scene reported.

The controversy stemmed from a series of comments that then-Officer Anthony Venable made following the July 2016 death of Philando Castile, who ignored repeated commands to stop reaching for a firearm during a traffic stop in Minnesota, and was shot by St. Anthony Police Department Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

The media went wild with its reporting of the case, largely due to a false narrative by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who live-streamed only what happened after the incident – not what led up to it or what occurred during the shooting.

As accusations of police bias and brutality swirled, Officer Venable, an eight-year veteran of the department, defended Officer Yanez’s actions during a Facebook conversation, the Tennessean reported.

When a commenter criticized Officer Yanez for having shot Castile four times, Officer Venable wrote that he “would have done 5.”

He further noted that he was “trained by the best,” and that “...You don’t shoot just one. If I use my weapon, I shoot to kill and end the threat,” the Nashville Patch reported.

The MNPD launched an internal investigation into Officer Venable’s comments, and ultimately decommissioned him on July 7, 2016. He was later fired from the department in February, 2017, the Nashville Scene reported.

“Certainly, to be clear, you have the First Amendment right to state to anyone that you would have shot Mr. Castile five (5) times instead of the four (4) times he was actually shot," MPD Chief Steve Anderson wrote in a 2017 letter to Venable, according to the Tennessean.

"However making such a statement is inconsistent with your employment with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and making such comments has disqualified you from serving in a police officer capacity," the chief concluded.

Officer Venable was MNPD’s Officer of the Year in 2014.

Venable appealed his termination to the MCSC, and Administrative Law Judge Steve Darnell overturned his firing and ordered the MNPD to compensate the former officer for back-pay and benefits on Dec. 28, 2017. Darnell also noted that the officer should have only been sanctioned with a 30-day suspension.

But on Tuesday, the civil service commission rejected Judge Darnell’s ruling, and upheld MNPD’s initial decision to terminate Venable.

Venable’s lawsuit contended that the city violated his private citizen free speech rights, and noted that Venable never identified himself as a MNPD officer when he engaged in the online debate.

“The plaintiff sues the defendant for its retaliation against him for the exercise of his freedom of political expression as a private citizen, for his commentary on social media and his response to a comment posted on his personal and private Facebook page about a current event of inherent public concern and nationwide interest,” the suit argued, according to WSMV.

The lawsuit also argued that the MNPD’s social media policy was selectively enforced, as exemplified by the 10-day suspension of another officer who posted a photo of Black Panther Party National Chairman Bobby Seale and Defense Minister Huey Newton, both of whom were armed, the Nashville Patch reported.

Venable’s lawsuit seeks $2 million in damages for “mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment and emotional injury,” according to the Nashville Scene.

Do you think that this officer should have been fired? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.

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While a law enforcement officer may be perfectly within their rights to use deadly force, it should also be highlighted in the civil rights of citizens to always obey their lawful orders. Our society believes it is common sense, yet far too many civil rights are not included in the training civilians receive as operators of motor vehicles. On the same subject, LEO's cannot be assured of full vision in MV stops. That naturally places them at high risk.


Shoot him then, you can shout if you want but I'm going to shoot him and kill him.


It was a mistake when people DON'T FOLLOW LAWFUL ORDERS by Police Officers, excuse us for wanting to go home at the end of our shifts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you think that Officer WANTED TO KILL Castile, you're really dumber than I have you credit for being. He has to live with having to take a man's life over something as stupid as him not keeping his hands at from his waist. You make the big bad statements, why don't you try standing in that Cop's shoes and feel the fear of a possible weapon like a Tec9 or an Uzi machine pistol or maybe just a knife, with a Blade that could gut you or cut off your arm maybe even your head. Would you shout him then?????


I have been out of police work since 1982. This year I retire from civilian work. Said some pretty stinging things on FB, but just wait to see what is said after I retire. BLUE LIVES MATTER. To the asshats above who claim to have seen video that does not exist and want to armchair quarterback, crawl back in your holes.


If he’d been white do u think it’d been such a big deal? Wake up people!