'Killer cop' Twitter account suspended after LAPD union sues its owner
Published in News & Features
Twitter has suspended the social media account of an anti-police website for violating its rules against inciting violence after a union for Los Angeles police sued the owner of the website that offers a “bounty” for the killing of police officers.
The Twitter account @killercop1984 was suspended after the Los Angeles Police Protective League last week sued the owner of the “killer cop” website, accusing him of publishing their photos on his website and putting out a “bounty” on them.
In a tweet mentioned in the lawsuit, the site’s owner, Steven Sutcliffe, who posts under the handle @killercop1984, allegedly wrote, “Remember, #Rewards are double all year for #detectives and #female cops.” The tweet included an image of a monetary reward for killing an LAPD officer, the lawsuit says.
Sutcliffe has repeatedly defended his right to criticize the LAPD. “They are trying to silence my free speech. The truth cannot be retaliatory. It is 1st Amendment protected speech,” he told The Times last week.
“We are appreciative of Twitter acting swiftly to take down this dangerous website that called for the murder of Los Angeles police officers,” Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League that represents LAPD officers, said in a statement. “This was not about freedom of speech or public discourse, this was about protecting officers and their families and for that we are grateful that this site is suspended.”
The lawsuit is the first legal action stemming from the LAPD’s release of the names and photos of almost every sworn officer — more than 9,300 officers, including some who work undercover — as part of a public records request. The department did not intend to release the information about undercover police. A police watchdog group posted the images online earlier this month.
Mayor Karen Bass in a tweet over the weekend called the release “an unacceptable breach that put lives of our officers and their families at risk” and said she expects a “full accounting” of how it happened.
The lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of Officers Adam Gross, Adrian Rodriguez and Douglas Panameno, asks that the photos and other identifying information be taken down from the killercop.com site.
According to the suit, a later tweet on the account allegedly included a link to a database of officer photos, along with the caption, “Clean head-shots on these #LAPD officers. A to Z.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Sutcliffe claim that the alleged threats, combined with their photos being circulated online, have caused them emotional distress.
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