In the aftermath of the shootings of Boston Police Officer John Moynihan and his shooter Angelo West, emotions ran high. West’s body lay on the street in Roxbury for about five hours while Officer Moynihan fought for his life with a bullet lodged behind his ear. As West’s body lay out on the street, a crowd gathered and demanded answers about the shooting. A few videos of abrasive interactions between the police and the crowd were released on YouTube (they have since been removed). Tyngsborough police Lieutenant Shaun Wagner reacted to these videos publicly on his Facebook page in a grammatically-challenged rant:
This is what Mass. Police are dealing with right now after a cop was shot in the face by a thug. This isn't a race issue cut the shit we aren't gonna stand by and put up with this for long.. Boston Strong for a reason we will deal with this differently than most...
Wagner's comment was accompanied by a link to derogatory blog post about the crowd, where the author called the people “assholes” and said “I’d go all John Shaft on these gutless losers.”
Wagner's comment seems to mean that he and fellow police officers won't tolerate protests or being called racist. Wagner's post drew 75 “likes,” including many from other police officers and one from Jerry Flynn, the Executive Director of the New England Police Benevolent Association, Inc which is a major police union.
The post is a bit vague about what kind of intolerant “Boston Strong” reaction Wagner expects to exact on people upset that a man's body had been left in the street for hours, but the comments on the post and Wagner's reactions provide clarity.
“That fat fuck would have been a heavy bag with eye balls!” John Redican, who appears to be a Los Angeles police officer, said in reference to a large man in the crowd whose picture was in Wagner's post. Wagner “liked” this comment.
The comments continued with a discussion about so-called “race baiters” and people blaming Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for the crowd gathering, but then they finally got to the point.
“Fuck them they all hide behind the race card! If I had it my way there would be a cleansing!” said Michael Pinard, who thankfully doesn't appear to be a police officer. However, Wagner “liked” this comment as well.
Call me crazy, but advocating the “cleansing” of everyone who can “hide behind the race card” sounds suspiciously like advocacy of genocide, and whatever he meant by the comment can't possible have been anything good.
According to the Tyngsborough Police Department, Wagner has been employed there since 1996: “Wagner is an instructor in defensive tactics, firearms, use of force, and women’s self defense” (emphasis added). Lieutenant is the third highest rank in the department, only falling below chief and deputy chief.
We reached out to Wagner to see if he wanted to comment on the post, but he didn't respond. We then sent a message to the department's Facebook account (their website was down due to being hacked) for their comment. The response from the department's anonymous Facebook administrator was to say that this was not a proper use of Facebook. Unfortunately, the admin was referring to us contacting the department, not Wagner's post.
When the department's website was re-opened, we asked Chief Richard Howe for comment. The only response we received was from Deputy Chief Christopher Chronopoulos, who said the department had opened a complaint in my name and would investigate the incident.
While we applaud the department for launching an investigation into this, we're leery that the investigation isn't being taken seriously because Wagner's post and the comments are still up and public.