Ryan Snow is the former police officer in Hoover, Alabama, who was fired after posting a threatening message on Facebook that the police chief described as “sickening.” The picture was of a Black protester in the crosshairs of a rifle scope.
Snow admitted to sharing the image, according to the Associated Press. He was fired three days after posting it. Snow has since either suspended or deleted his Facebook account but screenshots of the post have circulated online.
Heavy has reached out to the Hoover Police Department to ask about the next steps, such as whether Snow could face any legal repercussions or if the department plans to implement additional training or policy changes. This post will be updated once we hear back.
Here’s what you need to know:
Snow Suggested Armed Protesters In Atlanta Could Be Shot
Snow was responding to a headline from WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, about armed protesters. The TV station published an online article on June 23 titled, “Armed protesters remain at Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed. So what’s next?”
The news report featured a picture of a shirtless Black man leaning against a vehicle while casually resting a shotgun against his right shoulder. Protesters were blocking the intersection at University Avenue and Pryor Street, which leads to the Wendy’s parking lot where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed on June 12.
Snow edited the picture of the protester by adding crosshairs to it as if someone was aiming a rifle at the young man. Snow wrote in the caption, “Exhale. Feel. Pause. Press steadily. That’s what’s next.”
Hoover’s Police Chief Insisted Snow’s Conduct Was ‘Not Representative’ Of the Department
Snow’s post was published on June 23. The Hoover Police Department as well as the mayor’s office, learned about it the following day, WKRG-TV reported. Snow was placed on administrative leave that afternoon. Two days later, Chief Nick Derzis made the decision to fire Snow, who joined the police force more than four years ago.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Derzis insisted Snow’s Facebook activity was not reflective of the entire force. “When I saw the post and the image, it sickened me,” Derzis said. “It certainly did not adhere to the standards expected of every officer who wears our uniform. This type of conduct will not be tolerated in our department and is not representative of the professionalism expected by all of our officers. We’re not going to allow one officer to tarnish the reputation of the Hoover Police Department.
But the president of the Birmingham Justice League, Carlos Chaverst, disagreed with that sentiment. He argued in a prepared statement to AL.com that greater policy changes are needed within the city’s police force. “Hoover Police Department shows time and time again they have no regard for black lives. Their officers continue to show disrespect to the movement and what we are protesting for. We appreciate Hoover Police for acting swiftly, but firing an officer isn’t enough,” Chaverst said. “Hoover should implement real policy changes to ensure this doesn’t happen again. If they don’t it’s merely a bandaid on a gunshot wound. Hoover, continue to punish your officer for doing wrong like you do us, but this is about policy not firing.”
Chaverst also touched on the 2018 killing of 21-year-old Emantic “Ej” Bradford Jr. to make the argument that greater changes within the police department are needed. Bradford was shot three times in the back on Thanksgiving night as police responded to a report of a shooting inside the Riverchase Galleria Mall. The officer who shot Bradford was not charged.
Armed Protesters Blocked the Area Where Rayshard Brooks Was Shot In Atlanta
Snow was commenting on the situation that unfolded outside the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was shot in southwest Atlanta. WSB-TV reported that protesters armed with long guns and pistols blocked off the area as officers kept their distance. One protester, who was not publicly named, explained to Fox News that he carried a shotgun for protection. “The police aren’t allowed here because they’re not here to protect us.”
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported the armed demonstrators had left by June 24. Atlanta police told the newspaper that the department was not involved in removing the protesters.
Brooks died at a local hospital following a confrontation with two officers on June 12. Officers Garrett Rolfe and Devin Bronsan responded to the Wendy’s after Brooks fell asleep in the drive-thru. Bodycam footage showed the exchange between Brooks and the two officers was initially calm. Brooks was cooperative as Rolfe questioned whether he was armed and allowed the officers to pat him down to verify Brooks did not have any weapons.
But after Brooks failed a sobriety test, he physically struggled as the officers moved to put him in handcuffs and grabbed one of the officer’s tasers. Additional surveillance video showed Brooks running away; he turned and aimed the taser at the police before Rolfe fired his gun. Rolfe was fired and now faces several charges including felony murder.