A police officer Erik Andrade involved in the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown has been fired due to a string of social media posts which mocked the incident.
Although Police Chief Alfonso Morales explained the decision to terminate Andrade was not related to his actions during Brown’s arrest, but said the social media posts jeopardized the officer’s ability to provide testimony in future cases.
On January 26, 2018 at around two in the morning, several officers of the Milwaukee Police Department approached Brown at a Walgreens parking lot due to a parking his car in two handicapped spots. During the incident, the Bucks player was thrown to the ground, tased with a stun gun, and arrested.
The police body camera footage of the arrest—which was released in June—showed that Brown didn’t threaten law enforcement before or during his arrest. Additionally, the video showed officers expressing concern over how the arrest will be viewed by the public.
Brown was held in jail for a brief period, but was never charged with a crime. Later that day, he played in an NBA with visible bruising on his face.
Hours after the arrest, Andrade posted on social media: “Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol #FearTheDeer.” Three months later, the former officer shared a meme of Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant that compared the player’s hair to a heavily sprinkled ice cream cone. Following the Cleveland Cavaliers’’ loss to the Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Andrade posted: “I hope JR Smith double parks in Walgreens handicap Parkin spots when he’s in Milwaukee!”
In June, Brown filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department and the city on the claims of wrongful arrest and excessive force during the arrest. The suit says that law enforcement violated the Bucks player’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights during the altercation.
Once the footage was released and public outrage followed, eleven officers were disciplined. Three officers, not including Andrade, were suspended for their actions.
Morales said that although officers are free to share their opinions on social media, speech involving their work is not protected.