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Exclusive: The Facebook Post Behind the Controversy

Exclusive: The Facebook Post Behind the Controversy

The Columbus Packet has obtained a copy of a recent Facebook post that has led to the resignation of a decorated Columbus firefighter and the lengthy suspensions of a policeman and two other city firefighters. The men, whom one columnist has dubbed “The Facebook Four” have become the center of a controversy that pits the rights of individual freedom of speech versus the powers of a municipal employer to discipline that speech.
Former Columbus firefighter Brad Alexander made a post on the wall of his personal Facebook page harshly criticizing a Columbus mother after her two-year-old son was struck by a vehicle just South of Eveningside Apartments in the 1300 block of 8th Ave. N. in late August. Tyree Sparks Jr. was struck by a pickup truck around 4 p.m. August 20th after he ran out of the yard where a family friend was watching him on their porch.
Lily Grayer told The Packet that she was playing with young Tyree when he suddenly bolted out into the front yard. Grayer said that as soon as he hit the pavement, a slow moving truck hit him and threw him to the ground.
“The lady was very aware and she slowed down and tried to miss him. She stopped right away and was hysterical…she was so worried he was badly hurt” Grayer said.
Shanta Henley, Tyree’s Aunt and Classie Craddieth, his grandmother raced from another neighbors home across Military Rd. as soon as they saw the commotion. Henley and Craddieth held the boys hands to calm him until emergency responders arrived minutes later. Sparks’ Aunt, Shanta Henley,accompanied Sparks in the ambulance and Craddieth and another Aunt, Shameka Nickelson, followed them to Baptist Hospital.
The young boy was transported to BMH-GT with a cut to the forehead and a knot on the back of his head, and the family said that he has recovered well. Members of the Henley family expressed outrage when they learned of the actual language of the post Wednesday evening. The Henleys said that they just knew what had been in the papers, and that they had not been given specifics by authorities.
Sometime following the accident, Alexander posted the following public post on his Facebook wall:
“People never cease to amaze me. Mama yelling oh my baybee my baybee….Hey you stupid ass, where was babyeees mama at while your 2 year old was getting hit by a truck. Mama needs to have her guts cut so there wont be anymore babies. Freeloading ignorant woman”


The Henleys told The Packet that, after finally learning the language in post, they might plan some sort of legal action. They said that the mother of the child,Terrance Henley, was actually on her way back from Columbus High School , where she is a Senior, when the accident occurred and was extremely emotional after she learned her child had been struck.
“That’s just wrong…using that kind of language. She (Terrance) didn’t do anything wrong. It was an accident” Craddieth said.
Although it is unclear when the post was taken down from Facebook, city leaders were shown a screenshot of the post that shows the following caption below the post:
Lance Luckey, Damon Estes, Eric Minga and 12 others like this


Shortly after news of the post was brought to the attention of Columbus Fire Chief Ken Moore, Moore and Columbus Mayor Robert Smith had a meeting with Alexander. Within days of that meeting, Alexander reportedly submitted his resignation. According to several published reports, Alexander also posted the following apology on his Facebook page:

Tyree Sparks, Jr., Terrance Henley, Shanta Henley with Shameka and
Zykerria Nickelson

Columbus Police Officer Lance Luckey and Columbus Firefighters Damon Estes and Eric Minga, all city workers who reportedly admitted to “liking” the post, appeared before the Columbus City Council last week for a disciplinary hearing. Based on the recommendations of Columbus Police chief Selvain McQueen and Columbus Fire Chief Ken Moore, the council suspended all three public servants for 30 days. According to published reports the firefighters will miss one calendar month of work while Officer Luckey will miss 30 paid days of work (meaning he loses nearly two months of pay). No authorities with the city could comment on whether any of the other twelve people who “liked” the comment were able to be identified.
The incident has become a hot topic on local chat rooms and Facebook groups, with several citizens organizing a fundraiser to help pay the four men’s medical bills during their suspension. Some local citizens expressed outrage that the men were disciplined for simply “liking” a Facebook post, when neither the Columbus Fire or Police Department or the City of Columbus has a written policy against such activity. Officer Lance Luckey is a very well-known and award-winning public servant, working not only as a police officer but also as a Caledonia Town Marshal and a Volunteer firefighter. He has been awarded five Chief’s Coins, and has been named “Firefighter of the Year,” “Rookie of the Year,” and “Firefighter with the Best Attendance.” Firefighter Brad Alexander was recently awarded “Rookie of the Year” and is also extremely popular in the community. Local sentiment grew over the weekend after Alexander played a pivotal role as a Volunteer firefighter during a car accident Sunday morning.
According to sources close to two of the three men suspended, they feel as though they were suspended unjustly. The sources both said that the men “liked” the post on their phones, and that the entire Facebook post isn’t always shown on the screen unless one clicks on it to read further. They argue that the men did not see the entire message until they were confronted at their respective places of work. Officer Luckey has appealed his suspension and is awaiting a hearing in front of the Civil Service Commission, and sources expect both of the firefighters will do the same. News of the controversy has spread to several national news sites, such as Firehouse.com, MankantoFreePress.com, TheNewsTribune.com, Policemag.com, Policeone.com and emsworld.com.

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  1. Columbus Paper Releases Text of Facebook Rant | Fire Law - 09/17/2012

    [...] Statter has been on this since this morning after the Columbus Packet published an exclusive expose. The original post by Firefighter Brad Alexander came after a 2 year [...]

  2. Columbus Paper Releases Text of Facebook Rant | Fire Law - 09/17/2012

    [...] Statter has been on this since this morning after the Columbus Packet published an exclusive expose. The original post by Firefighter Brad Alexander came after a 2 year [...]

  3. Firefighter Rob - 09/17/2012

    Let me guess, all of the suspended individuals were white and as we already know the “victims” are black. In an effort to be politically correct reverse discrimination is once again applied via no back bone city council members. I feel confident that the posting employee who resigned was given an altimatim. He chose one that will keep his opportunities open for future employment. Hopefully he learns to keep his workplace frustrations to himself. He was given a break, had he chose to be fired chances are he would never find future employment. Bottom line, you reprisent the Department 24/7 reprisent them well.

  4. george - 09/17/2012

    love the family picture. Hard working people. Great names. And good people lost their job over this?

  5. JohnnyPhillipMorris - 09/17/2012

    Why you should NOT use FACEBOOK.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tVobv3z9W8

  6. MoralActivist - 09/17/2012

    O. Kay, now that we have the details we can make a decision! It appears to me that Mr. Alexander is in the wrong on this one! Why? Well, he was on his employer’s time as a responder was he not? He then took his work home with him, used a social network open to the public then made quite a harsh comment about the incident. So, I’d say the man does have a problem! As for the others, what is issue with them? Other than having an agreement about what was published, I’d have to let them off. Unless they were directly involved there cannot be assignment of “quilt by association”. Are there grounds for legal action or will this be terminated as a “lessons learned”?

  7. jr - 09/17/2012

    waaa waaaa waaaaa,obvious racist commments by our impartial civil servants.Get off fb,and quit commenting on 14 yr old mothers

  8. Eric L - 09/18/2012

    Bad judgement on the part of the fire fighter. Even worse judgement on the part of management to take this and run with it. Must have been a bad day for the reporters seeing that this story made the news.

  9. rm - 09/18/2012

    I see 5 welfare checks. What do you see in that picture?

  10. 4nikate - 09/18/2012

    The thing I see wrong in this picture was that the firefighter expressed himself on a social media site and it was used against him. Wether or not if we know if he used his computer at work or not, the high suspect of him getting caught would have been his friends on facebook. That is why when you have friends on facebook whom are coworkers and city workers, be careful what you post. It can be used against you.

    As for the family considering legal action, the problem fixed itself. There was no damage done to these people at all. They don’t seem to be emotionally torn apart about the firefighters post, basing my thought on the “nice” family picture in this article. It seems to me that the hidden motive behind why these people would consider legal action is for money. All these people want is money. If they do consider legal action, it will be hard to prove their case for damages caused by the facebook post.

  11. Fadeelah Williams - 09/18/2012

    The firefighter was wrong in commenting about work on a social site and the use of his language was a bit sterotypical. Had these people been white, would it still be so bad that they were reprimanded? Although I don’t believe they should have loss their jobs, however, if you are in a profession where it requires you to be professional, than be professional and keep comments about work, espacially if it’s rude and insensitive, to yourself and off the web. Now that was Dumb.

    • Mike - 09/19/2012

      I am glad you said that “stereotypical” remark. We live in a world too busy looking at God ordained pigmentation as wrong, than issues at hand. Nothing can be done to make a wrong right, except for an apology and forgiveness. It is hard to forgive one that has offended us, but aren’t we called to do just that? That statement came from a frustrated mindset. It is obvious from his/their credentials they are not racist, if we examine their noteworthy service records. Just being real.

  12. New Hope Band - 09/19/2012

    Lowndes Co. Nuclear Family 2012…

  13. Fly Molo - 09/19/2012

    Yikes. Scary to see responders on here defending this dirtbag medic.
    Every one of your patients deserve your respect at all times. End of story.

    • New Hope Band - 09/20/2012

      And when did he STOP treating this child? When has he ever refused to answer a call?

      • MoralActivist - 09/20/2012

        @New Hope Band, Just what is wrong with you? You respond to Fly Molo’s comment with two questions that are irrelevant to the point he was trying to make. I must admit you sure provide some entertaining value to this web-site. You’re probably one of those persons who drives in the fast lane while talking on your cell phone and then slows down creating “road rage” for other motorists. And you’re another fine example of how the teachers are failing in Mississippi in educating its youth. Keep it up, you’re just embarrassing your fellow “Band” members. When the word gets out about you, that will be a sight to see!

  14. Vincent - 09/20/2012

    I am really amazed that there is such an outrage behind the actions of the council. The individuals that posted and responded should have been reprimanded for their actions. They work to serve the public not judge them. If the next person hesitates for even a minute over calling 911 for fear they will be publically prosecuted, it could mean life or death. ? How professional is the doctor that performed heart surgery at 1:15 and then posts on his facebook page “just did a bypass on a fat man at 1:15.” These people are just taking space? Their opinions can be viewed as the opinions of the department and its leaders. It must be shown to the public, that pays their salary, they aren’t as disgusted with the issue as he clearly was. Also, most jobs prohibit facebook and twitter on the clock. How do we know they weren’t reprimanded for this? What I would like to know is how did he come to the conclusion she was a “Freeloading ignorant woman.” Was it Race, residency, dress, or language? Is it now customer to ask income and I.Q. questions when calling 911? We know the real answer to this question but will reserve comments just as he should have.

  15. Vincent - 09/20/2012

    I am really amazed that there is such an outrage behind the actions of the council. The individuals that posted and responded should have been reprimanded for their actions. They work to serve the public not judge them. If the next person hesitates for even a minute over calling 911 for fear they will be publically prosecuted, it could mean life or death. ? How professional is the doctor that performed heart surgery at 1:15 and then posts on his facebook page “just did a bypass on a fat man at 1:15.” These people are just taking space? Their opinions can be viewed as the opinions of the department and its leaders. It must be shown to the public, that pays their salary, they aren’t as disgusted with the issue as he clearly was. Also, most jobs prohibit facebook and twitter on the clock. How do we know they weren’t reprimanded for this? What I would like to know is how did he come to the conclusion she was a “Freeloading ignorant woman.” Was it Race, residency, dress, or language? Is it now custom to ask income and I.Q. questions when calling 911? We know the real answer to this question but will reserve comments just as he should have.

  16. victoria - 11/01/2012

    No the problem doesnt fix itself.I will still take legal action aganist the city of columbus.Sending a message that you can not get on a public site and write what you want about people.If the person was black who wrote that about white people how would that make you fill.All black people or not on welfare.Thats discrimination.church just dont help some people or do you have any jesus in you at all.I thank they got what they deserved.That was real dumb of you.

  17. JohnnyPhillipMorris - 11/01/2012

    Why is it that when we extend our hand of friendship, things go horribly wrong?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRFMu3zb5dA&feature=related

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