San Diego police probe claim of officer allegedly mocking memorial of man he fatally shot

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego police officer was suspended without pay after allegedly posting a photo on social media that appeared to make light of a memorial to a man who was fatally shot by the officer and his partner in June.

At a news conference Tuesday, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said Instagram posts by Officer Jonathan Lucas allegedly showed a photo of the man’s memorial plastered with crying-from-laughing and crying emojis and the hashtag #Eastside, KNSD reported.

It is not clear what the hashtag refers to, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

San Diego police spokesperson Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said the department received complaints Thursday via social media about the Instagram photo, and Nisleit immediately ordered an internal investigation, the newspaper reported.

Lucas, who has been an officer with the police department for four years, was placed on administrative duty, the Union-Tribune reported.

The allegations are linked to the death of Leonardo Ibarra, 25, who was fatally shot by Lucas and another officer, Tevar Zaki, in downtown San Diego on June 27, the Union-Tribune reported. Ibarra’s family told KNSD that Ibarra was shot 11 times.

“I am shocked and disturbed by the reports of this officer’s conduct,” Nisleit said at a news conference in reference to the alleged social media post. “The officer’s alleged actions fall short of the high standards I and our community have for the San Diego Police Department. I want to apologize to the Ibarra family. This unnecessary act only reopens wounds during an already painful time.”

Takuchi said the investigation will determine whether Lucas posted the photo and whether it violated department policies, the Union-Tribune reported.

“We hold all officers to a high standard, including conduct that is done off duty or on personal social media accounts,” Takuchi said.

According to the department’s policy, officers who use social media “shall adhere to conduct that does not reflect negatively on the (police) department or the city," the Union-Tribune reported. The policy goes on to state that “insensitive, biased-based or derogatory comments may have adverse consequences,” including negative impacts on the operations of the department.