The St. Louis County police department is investigating a Facebook post made by one of its officers over the weekend.
Officer Todd J. “TJ” Bakula shared on his Facebook that he was spending his “Michael Brown bonus” on a vacation for himself and his wife, referencing the money he earned while working during the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
“I decided to spend my annual Michael Brown bonus on a nice relaxing bicycle ride trip to Defiance. Eating dinner now and staying at a bed and breakfast tonight,” the post read in part.
Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo., last year on August 9 by former officer Darren Wilson, who was never indicted but resigned from the police force. The anniversary spawned protests throughout the city, which is when Officer Bakula earned his “bonus.”
Shawn McGuire, St. Louis County police’s media relations officer, confirmed to The Guardian that the posts are being taken seriously and investigated by the department.
“We understand the post is controversial,” he said. “The St Louis County police department takes these allegations very serious in every case. The remarks on the Facebook page will be investigated by our department.”
Officer Bakula’s Facebook post isn’t the first one to come under fire from the police department in reference to Brown. Last Sunday, on the anniversary of Brown’s death, a post appeared on the Columbia, Mo., Police Officers’ Association’s Facebook page declaring August 9 “Darren Wilson Day.” The post, which has since been taken down, read, “Our Support for Officer Wilson has nothing to do with race or anything else other than the fact that he was thoroughly investigated, twice, once by the state of Missouri and once by President Obama’s Justice Department, and BOTH investigations found he did NOTHING wrong.Yet, he lost his job and his career (again…even though he was found to have done nothing wrong.) So, yes, we stand by this innocent, but persecuted, officer.”
The post sparked a demonstration in downtown Columbia the following day. As with Officer Bakula’s post, the Columbia Police Department said in a statement that it does not support the post: “This post has served to inflame the emotions of some in our community. The Columbia Police Department is working hard to strengthen community relations in Columbia and is committed to developing positive relationships with the people we serve.”
Officer Bakula has not yet made a statement regarding the situation, but his Facebook page has since been taken down.