Sources identify 2 officers fired over offensive Facebook posts

Philadelphia Police Department headquarters at 7th and Race streets (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia Police Department headquarters at 7th and Race streets (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

This article originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.

Independent sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed the identities of two of the Philadelphia police officers who are being fired for making racist or otherwise offensive comments on Facebook.

The officers are Christian Fenico and Joseph Przepiorka, the sources said.

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Seven other police officers whose employment the police department intended to terminate retired in July. They are Sgt. Michael Melvin, Cpl. Thomas Young, Officer Anthony Acquaviva, Officer Robert Bannan, Officer Joseph Fox, Officer Jesus Cruz and Officer Edward McCammitt. The conditions of their resignations are unknown.

Sources could not confirm the identities of the four other officers who will lose their jobs over the racist Facebook posts or the four other officers who have been suspended without pay for 30 days.

Police spokespeople said labor laws prevent them from identifying the officers by name.

Leaders of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police No. 5 and the Guardian Civic League declined to comment on the firings and resignations.

When Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross announced last month that at least 13 officers would be fired and that four more would face a month-long suspension, he said that the officers who were being fired had posted material that condoned violence or encouraged police brutality, or shared memes or other content that was anti-Islamic, homophobic or racist.

The offensive posts were revealed by the Plain View Project, a research group that looked at Facebook posts made by police officers in several cities across the country, early in June.

The project’s database shows thousands of posts made by 328 officers of the Philadelphia Police Department.

Fenico posts as Chris Joseph, according to the Plain View Project database.

In a post from September 2013, Fenico commented “should have shot him” over a video about a thief who tried to rob an Iraq war veteran.

In another post from 2013, Fenico shared an article from a website that is no longer live. That posts references the story of a handcuffed teenager whose face was injured after he was slammed to the ground and shot with a stun gun by a police officer.

“Who cares,” Fenico wrote, “kid and mom are both scumbags. Good job police.”

And in a post about about refugees from 2017, he wrote, “Let them starve to death. I hate every last one of them.”

Fenico earned an annual salary of $77,481, according to the database.

In January 2017, Przepiorka posted a meme with a photo of Muslims that said “They suck the Western welfare systems dry, outbreed to become a majority, lobby for their own laws and take over. Like and share if you are sick of it.”

A month later, Przepiorka shared a meme showing a skeleton wearing an American flag and holding an assault rifle. The top of the image said “Death to Islam.”

Przepiorka earned an annual salary of $89,304, according to the database.

The FOP already has said it intends to fight the terminations of any officers fired over the Facebook posts. Some believe the FOP will succeed because the arbitration process under the current contract has been very successful at getting officers their jobs back after they have been fired. The police contract is up for negotiation in 2020. (215) 893-5732

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