A Massachusetts police officer is under investigation over a social media post allegedly mocking the violence at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.
Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri said in an emailed statement that he received a complaint Sunday about a Facebook comment reportedly made by a Springfield police officer. MassLive.com reported that Facebook user Conrad Lariviere commented on a post about a fatal car crash during the weekend protests, writing: “Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block roads.”
Police confirmed Monday to The Washington Post that officer Conrad Lariviere is under investigation, though police did not confirm details of the post.
“If in fact this post did originate from an officer employed with the Springfield Police Department,” Barbieri said, “this matter will be reviewed by the Community Police Hearings Board for further action.”
The fatal crash occurred Saturday at a rally in which hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with counterprotesters. Video of the incident showed a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger plow into a crowd on a pedestrian mall. Heather D. Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville was killed and many others were wounded in the attack.
The suspect, James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, has been charged with one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and another count related to the hit-and-run, police said.
In the Facebook post, Lariviere responded to another commenter who had apparently criticized him for his remarks.
“I’ve been hit by a s—bag with warrants but who cares right you ignorant brat live in a fantasy land with the rest of America while I deal with the real danger,” he wrote, according to MassLive.com.
It appears Lariviere’s comments have since been deleted from that post.
In a Facebook conversation with MassLive, Lariviere apologized for “a stupid comment about people blocking streets.”
“Never would I want someone to get murdered. I am not a racist and don’t believe in what any of those protesters are doing,” he told MassLive. “I’m a good man who made a stupid comment and would just like to be left alone.”
After Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno issued a stern statement Sunday denouncing the “actions by white supremacists,” he voiced concerns about the police officer’s alleged response to them.
“I just got done issuing a statement this morning on how upsetting the tragic incidents were in Charlottesville, Va., and one of our own officers does this?” he said. “Unbelievable! There is no place for this in our society, let alone from a Springfield Police Officer. We just went through this social media issue with a couple of Springfield Firefighters. Again, this is not an overall reflection of our men and women in blue, who serve with honor, courage and compassion.
“If these individuals do not learn from, understand and represent the meaning of mutual respect, my strong suggestion would be a different career path. I stand by and commend Commissioner John Barbieri’s steps for a thorough internal investigation and review by our Community Police Hearing Board to pursue the appropriate discipline against said officer.”