Coronavirus: Cop fired for Facebook comments lamenting lack of black people killed by virus

Coronavirus: Louisiana cop fired after Facebook post lamenting lack of black people killed by virus

KAPLAN, La. — A study released last week, as American deaths from the coronavirus approached the 100,000 mark, shows that the black population is dying of the virus at a rate 3.57 times higher than the white population.

That is apparently not enough for a Louisiana police officer, who has been fired for writing on Facebook that it is “unfortunate” more black people have not died of the deadly illness.

Steven Aucoin, who was a police officer with the Kaplan Police Department, was fired earlier this month, according to Kaplan Police Chief Joshua Hardy. A May 15 post on the department’s Facebook page addressed the situation.

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“Chief Hardy had the incident looked into and the officer was terminated,” the brief statement said. “Chief Hardy and the Kaplan Police Department would like to apologize for this matter.”

We are writing this to inform everyone that we were made aware of the situation with the comments on Facebook from...

Posted by Kaplan Police Department on Friday, May 15, 2020

Kaplan is a small city of about 4,600 people in Vermilion Parish, about 30 miles southwest of Lafayette.

Lafayette CBS affiliate KLFY reported that Aucoin was fired hours after writing the comments, which were in response to another commenter on a live KLFY feed of Gov. John Bel Edwards’s May 15 coronavirus news conference.

According to a screenshot obtained by the news station, a woman commented that the “virus that was created to kill all the blacks is death.”

“Well it didn’t work,” Aucoin appeared to respond. “How unfortunate.”

Hardy told KLFY he fired Aucoin after investigating the entire thread of comments.

“As a police officer, we’re held to a higher standard than normal civilians, so you got to watch what you do. You got to watch what you say,” Hardy said. “You can’t just go and post anything you want on social media.”

A Kaplan, La., police officer was fired May 15, 2020, for Facebook comments in which he appeared to lament that more black people had not been killed by COVID-19.
A Kaplan, La., police officer was fired May 15, 2020, for Facebook comments in which he appeared to lament that more black people had not been killed by COVID-19. (Kaplan Police Department)

Some people came to Aucoin’s defense, including a Louisiana firefighter who pointed out that a Facebook algorithm sometimes puts comments on a thread in non-chronological order.

Hardy said, however, that the entire thread was investigated and there were other comments that put Aucoin in a bad light.

“There were some other comments further up that was also not suitable for a police officer to be putting on Facebook,” the chief told the news station.

Screenshots of the other sections of the thread, posted by multiple Facebook users, indicate that Aucoin wrote, “You people have no clue. You think your pathetic existence is meaningful.

“How many times have you been to combat for the rights you think you deserve for leaching off this country,” he wrote.

Steve Aucoin you RACIST BUM, WE made you FAMOUS!!! #TERMINATED #WeWillExposeRACISM #WeAreNOTOurGrandparents

Posted by Donald Broussard on Saturday, May 16, 2020

In another section of the thread, Aucoin wrote, “I can’t wait until the next part of the plan is implemented and they see what’s in store for their kind.”

A search of KLFY’s comment thread on the May 15 news conference shows that Aucoin’s comments were apparently deleted.

Aucoin’s firing was met with some applause – including in meme form – on the department’s Facebook page.

“I applaud your swift and decisive action regarding this matter,” one commenter wrote. “Your willingness to serve notice on bigotry and ignorance is a genuine representation of redoubtable leadership that is necessary during these difficult times.”

Other commenters pointed to what they describe as a climate of bigotry in rural Louisiana. Neither lives in the state, however.

“This officer would not have been so comfortable posting on social media if the environment at the police department was not such that tolerates bigotry,” a woman from California wrote. “This firing was mainly a photo op for the PD to claim they do not tolerate this behavior. I suggest you start really doing the work and eradicating the tolerance of racism from the department.”

Another commenter from Iowa echoed the opinion.

“While I’m glad he was removed, surely you knew about his disposition,” the commenter wrote. “Why did it take public shaming to root it out? Congratulations on rectifying a bad situation but don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.”

A Louisiana police officer was fired May 15, 2020, for Facebook comments in which he appeared to lament that more black people had not been killed by COVID-19.
A Louisiana police officer was fired May 15, 2020, for Facebook comments in which he appeared to lament that more black people had not been killed by COVID-19. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)