By Sheryl Estrada
MarShawn McCarrel II
For Fairborn, Ohio, Police Officer Lee Cyr, happiness is when a young Black Lives Matter activist with a promising future decides to kill himself on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. MarShawn McCarrel II committedsuicide in that mannerminutes before 6 p.m. onFeb. 8, and Cyr’s Facebook comment about the 23-year-old’s demise cost him his job.
Two days after McCarrel’s death, a link to a news story about the activist shooting himself near the front door of the statehouse was posted on the Ohio Politics Facebook page.
Cyrcommented stating, “Love a happy ending.”
A statement issued by Fairborn Police Chief Terry Barlow on Monday said the officer was fired for the post as it violated “the department’s social media policy and does not conform to the Professional Standards & Core Values established by the organization.”
A news organization obtained a screenshot of the post before it was removed. (The news organization blurred out the names of private citizenswho also commented.)
His dismissal follows an internal investigation that commenced after Cyr, who had been employed with the Fairborn Police Department since 1994, was placed on suspension in February.
According to WHIO a supervisor, Sgt. Rod Myers, warned Cyr in a May 29, 2015 letter about his improper social media behavior after he posted a comment on Facebook:
“We have discussed the use of social media, and I have encouraged you to better familiarize yourself with the aforementioned General Order regarding Social Media and model your social media behavior to be consistent with that order.”
Fairborn is almost40 miles away from Franklin Township, Columbus, where McCarrel lived.
There were no witnesses to hissuicide.A few hours prior to his death, McCarrel posted an obscure status on Facebook:
His last tweet read, “Let the record show that I pissed on the state house before I left.”
McCarrel was among organizers of a protest against the police-relateddeath of John Crawford III inside a Beavercreek, Ohio, Walmart on Aug. 5,2014.
He also was active in organizing protests in Ohio after Police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9, a few days after Crawford’s death.
Leatha Wellington and her son, MarShawn McCarrel, at the 47th annual NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 5. Photo via Facebook.
McCarrel founded a youth mentorship program called Pursuing Our Dreams, which launched Feed the Streets, a project to assist the homeless in Ohio.One of the activities of the project is to supplyhomeless people with monthly homemade lunches.
A tribute to McCarrel on the Black Lives Matter website said he “built up the Ohio Student Association into a strong grassroots organization with a presence across the state and a reputation across the country.” And that McCarrel helped launch Freedomside, “a coalition of youth-led racial justice organizations modeled after the Civil Rights Era Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”
A few days before his death, McCarrel attended the 47thannualNAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 5 with his mother, Leatha Wellington. He posted a photo on Facebook with the message: “Red Carpet with Ma one time for the culture (everyone thinks she’s my lady lol).”
During his trip to California, he was honored as one of 15 Radio One Hometown Champions.
“The statehouse was no accident,” Molly Shack, an organizer with the Ohio Student Association, told the Columbus Dispatch about McCarrel’s suicide. “We’ve been working so hard, and yet the conditions for the people in our community and the people that he loved and cared about are still so hard. I have to imagine that that burden weighed a lot on him.”
“He had so much to do,” Wellington, his mother, said. “He forgot to take time for himself.”
In January, a St. Paul, Minnesota, police sergeant, Jeffrey Rothecker, was put on paid administrative leaveduring an investigation into his Facebook posts persuadingresidents to drive over Black Lives Matter protesters. Rothecker resigned from his position on Feb. 17.