Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cop’s Facebook photo showing Obama T-shirt with bullet holes eyed by Secret Service as possible threat

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The Secret Service is investigating an Arizona police sergeant who posted a photo on Facebook of seven teenagers holding-up a bullet ridden T-shirt of President Barack Obama, reports The Arizona Republic.

Sgt. Pat Shearer, a 25-year veteran of the Peoria police, took and posted the photo on his own Facebook account. The photo shows the teens standing in the desert, four brandishing weapons and one holding a T-shirt with Obama's image -- which the officer said was used for target practice.

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said Friday that the agency is taking the matter seriously.

"Any time information is brought to our attention where an individual or a group of individuals expresses unusual direction of interest in one of our protectees, we conduct appropriate follow-up," Milien told POLITICO.

But in an interview with ABC15, Shearer downplayed the photo as merely a "political statement."

“I don't think that the shooting of that T-shirt is that big of a deal," Shearer said.

"It's not like they were going to go out and shoot the president," he continued.

If the Secret Service deems the photo as indicating a real threat against the President, serious legal repercussions could follow.

"It is a crime to knowingly and willingly make a threat against the life of the President of the United States - in order to kidnap him or make a threat of bodily harm," Dan Barr, an attorney with the First Amendment Coalition, told NBC12 News.

"The first amendment does not apply if a true threat is made against the President of the United States."

The boys, who are all reported to be students at Centennial High School, did not turn up for classes on Friday, reported NBC12 News.

Although the police officer has not been placed on leave at this time, he does face a range of violations of the department's electronic media policies.

"Employees shall not post, transmit, reproduce, and/or disseminate information (text, pictures, video, audio, etc.) to the Internet or any other forum (public or private) that would tend to discredit or reflect unfavorably upon the department or any of the department's employees," the department's policy reads.


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