St. Louis officer to be disciplined over Wilson name tag

AP News
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Posted: Dec 14, 2014 5:59 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis city police officer faces disciplinary action for wearing a tag on his sleeve bearing the last name of the former Ferguson officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1uIk2vQ ) he "couldn't be more disappointed" and that he thinks the officer will get "some days off for his actions."

The officer, whose name hasn't been released, wore the tag with Darren Wilson's last name on it in a show of solidarity to Wilson while stationed at City Hall when protesters showed up Friday.

Wilson, who is white, fatally shot the unarmed 18-year-old Brown, who was black during an Aug. 9 confrontation in Ferguson, sparking racial unrest and sometimes violent protests in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb. A grand jury decided last month not to indict Wilson and he later resigned.

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, said there's "something wrong with this picture" that protesters have been protected by the First Amendment while the officer is "being told that his passive statement is constitutionally prohibited free speech."

Dotson said police officers have the same First Amendment rights as others when off duty, but he added that the officer "clearly violated" rules that allow only department-approved pins, insignia and awards on uniforms.

"We spend a lot of time working on professionalism and building a bridge in the community," Dotson said.

Protester Marcellus Butler said Friday that the tag shows whose side the officer is taking in the matter. He said Wilson "wasn't attacking in self-defense."

"Darren Wilson had an option to Mace (Brown)," Butler said. "But he got to shoot."

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com