Target: Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster
Goal: Dismiss the police officer who destroyed the only photos of a homeless man’s deceased wife
In another instance of needless police aggression, a cop in Charleston, West Virginia took the backpack of a homeless man and threw it into a river, destroying the laptop that contained the man’s only photos of his dead wife. The homeless man, a Mr. Andrew Joel Hunt, was being arrested for alleged drunk and disorderly behavior. There is no conceivable reason why any police officer involved should have thrown Hunt’s belongings into the river other than pure malice.
After being released from jail, Hunt filed a complaint against officer Brian Lightner. Lightner was suspended with pay and the police department awarded Mr. Hunt with an “undisclosed settlement,” but the officer was not charged with any crime nor was he punished with anything other than what is essentially a paid vacation.
Police officers in this country have gotten to the point where they apparently think they can get away with anything and treat vulnerable members of our society with as much contempt as they like. This is not surprising considering the fact that officers never seem to face any negative consequences for their actions. Suspension with pay is hardly a punishment.
By signing this petition, you’ll put pressure on the Charleston Police Department to fire Officer Lightner for his needlessly cruel behavior that has severed the last link Hunt had to his deceased wife. Police officers in the U.S. need to be sent the message that they will face consequences for their actions.
Dear Chief Webster,
Not long ago, Officer Brian Lightner of your department was suspended with pay for throwing a homeless man’s backpack into a river, likely destroying the only photos that this man had of his deceased wife. I understand that Officer Lightner has not been further punished for this senseless act of abuse and that you simply agreed on a settlement with Mr. Andrew Joel Hunt.
The fact that Officer Lightner was merely suspended with pay for the act of needlessly destroying a man’s property out of spite is completely unacceptable. Suspension with pay is little more than a paid vacation, which means you basically rewarded him for absolutely unnecessary brutality that has cost a man the last images of the woman he loved and lost. If this is the consequence of such an action, there’s no reason to think that your officers won’t continue to treat vulnerable members of our society this poorly.
If you want anyone to believe that you care about the citizens whom you’re supposed to be protecting, then you must fire Officer Lightner for this offense. His actions were a complete abuse of power and suggest that he is not fit for service. Anybody who would cruelly destroy the limited possessions of a homeless person should not be in a position of power over others. Send a message to your department and to your city by dismissing Lightner from the police force.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Yannick Gingras via Flickr