A sergeant named Joel Sydanmaa is suing the Los Angeles Police Department after he was reprimanded for the social media comments he published on Facebook and Instagram regarding the shooting of Nipsey Hussle and other sensitive topics.
In a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court, the sergeant, who has been in the force for 24 years, says he was reprimanded twice and suspended after he made posts the death of the late rapper, about Muslims, and shaming the women who made sexual assault allegations against Brett M. Kavanaugh amid his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Sgt. claimed in the lawsuit that he has “never done anything improper on the job,” but he was in trouble for “expressing his opinions, as a private citizen, while off-duty, on his personal social media accounts, about matters of public concern.”
After the Los Angeles emcee was shot dead in front of his Marathon Clothing store in 2019, Sydanmaa reportedly took to Instagram to accuse Hussle of being a gang member. In the posts, he shared that he believed that the rapper “perpetuated the criminal gang lifestyle and the anti-police sentiment in this country” with his music, adding that Hussle “chose the lifestyle that ultimately killed him.”
The post went viral at the time, and Sydanmaa took to the comments to argue with people, and in one comment, her reportedly wrote: “Next time you need help, call a Crip, not 911.”
The LAPD reviewed the post, which led to a one-day suspension for the sergeant. He said that other officers and commanders, including LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who is a named defendant in the case, have shared their own political views in public and while in uniform without being reprimanded.
Sydanmaa now claims the department’s punishment against him for his views harmed him “psychologically, reputationally, and emotionally.” He says he also believes the situation has reduced his “prospects for promotion and advancement” within the police department moving forward and that it has hurt his career opportunities post-retirement.
He asking the court to stop the LAPD from controlling what he shares on social media in the future and is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages for the actions that have already been taken against him. LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the L.A. Times that the department could not comment on the lawsuit since it is an ongoing litigation.