FORT WORTH, Texas — A police officer in Texas has lost his job after sharing a meme that showed a Black man in a coffin and said, “The face you make when you don’t understand ‘stop resisting.’”
Fort Worth police officials placed Roger Ballard on “indefinite suspension” Thursday, according to a statement from the police department.
“An indefinite suspension is equivalent to termination,” the department’s statement said. “Internal Affairs is continuing to investigate the extent of the involvement of (a) second officer.”
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the second officer is Ballard’s wife, who is a corporal in the department. The meme was shared on a page listed under the name Roger-Katie Ballard, which has since been deactivated.
According to authorities, they were made aware Sept. 20 of the “racially insensitive and grossly inappropriate” social media post, which was posted to a Facebook page Ballard shared with his wife. The Star-Telegram and CBS Dallas-Fort Worth described the content of the meme.
“Internal Affairs quickly began an investigation and concluded that Officer Roger Ballard was responsible for posting the racially insensitive meme containing a photo which led to numerous complaints and public outrage,” the police statement said. “After reviewing the Internal Affairs findings, Chief (Ed) Kraus concurred with the chain of command determination that Officer Roger Ballard was in violation of departmental general orders and that his conduct brought justified unfavorable criticism upon the department.”
Ballard had been with the department for 18 years, according to the local CBS affiliate.
“The Fort Worth Police Department holds every officer to a very high standard and any comment, post, or any communication which is racially insensitive and unprofessional will not be condoned in any manner,” the department’s statement said. “Our department will continue to hold accountable those who do not meet that standard.”
The Fort Worth Police Department has been under increased scrutiny following the shooting death last October of Atatiana Jefferson by former police Officer Aaron Dean.
Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew in the early morning hours of Oct. 12, 2019, when police officers arrived to investigate a neighbor’s call about an open door at her home.
According to Dean’s arrest warrant, the interior front and side doors of the house were open, but the storm doors were closed.
Dean went into the backyard and was peering through a window when he spotted Jefferson, who had gotten up – after grabbing her handgun from her purse – to investigate who was outside the house. The officers had not knocked or otherwise announced their presence.
“Officer Dean gave orders to ‘put your hands up, show me your hands’ without identifying himself as police and fired his handgun one time through the window,” the warrant states.
Jefferson, mortally wounded, cried out in pain and fell to the floor. She died at the scene.
Dean, 35, resigned two days later and was charged with Jefferson’s murder. He was indicted in December.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said in a statement that she supported Kraus' decision to fire Ballard.
“We must continue the hard work of building trust in our community,” Price tweeted. “As I said previously, actions like these that unravel this hard work are extremely disheartening, and we must see that individuals are held accountable for their actions.”
Cox Media Group