FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) ─ A Fall River police captain accused of unintentionally sharing a controversial post on the department’s Facebook page has been suspended following an independent investigation into the incident.
Captain Jay Huard will be suspended without pay for 30 days, according to the investigation report released by Fall River Police Chief Jeffrey Cardoza.
The Facebook post was shared soon after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
The post, which has since been removed, reportedly referenced Chauvin calmly placing his hands behind his back after the verdict was read and questioned what would have happened if Floyd had done the same during his arrest.
Huard, a 25-year veteran of the force, served as the head of the Office of Professional Standards and was the department’s public information officer before he was reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation. Prior to this incident, the report revealed Huard has never been disciplined by the department.
The investigation was conducted by Liberty Forensics, and revealed Huard was one of only two people who could access the department’s social media accounts.
The other individual, Lieutenant James Hoar, granted Huard access to the account. Prior to doing so, the report said Huard took part in a “limited and informal training session” regarding posting information to the department’s pages.
During this training session, Hoar warned Huard not to confuse his personal account with the department’s account, adding “it’s very easy to do, I can definitely tell you that,” according to the report.
Hoar, according to the report, explained to Huard how to differentiate his personal account from the department’s account.
“Lieutenant Hoar emphasized that close attention must be paid to the small icon at the top of the screen in order to verify which Facebook account that [he was] sharing the post to,” the report said.
Huard was also told all posts shared to the department’s social media accounts must be verbally approved by Cardoza beforehand.
The day the post was shared to the department’s page, the report states Huard had stopped at a local restaurant to pick up lunch.
The report said he saw the post as he was waiting for his order. During an interview with investigators, Huard said, “it jumped out at me and emotion kind of kicked in … The last two years have been very negative and I feel that we’re under attack and it weighs heavy on me.”
Believing he was posting it to his account, Huard shared the post, then returned to the Fall River Police Department where he was confronted by a fellow officer about it.
Huard said after realizing his mistake, he deleted the post and contacted Cardoza. The report states the post was up for roughly 10 minutes before it was taken down.
He acknowledged that the post itself was “insensitive and ignorant” and he did not see it from others’ perspectives when he initially shared it, the report said.
“I feel terrible for every single man and woman that puts on a police department uniform in Fall River,” he said. “Knowing that I caused them a little bit of strife in their shift, obviously the confidence that some of the community has in this department has taken a hit and I realize that.”
The report concluded there was no evidence of racial bias, however, Huard did violate the department’s social media policy and should’ve shown better judgement.
Huard has since been permanently removed from both of his positions, Cardoza confirmed Wednesday, and will undergo empathy and perspective-taking training.