A New Jersey police officer who wrote on Facebook that Black Lives Matter protesters are “terrorists” who couldn’t care less if she dies has been fired — a move ripped by her attorney as “pandering to the far left.”
Hopewell Township Police Officer Sara Erwin was terminated Friday via unanimous vote of the town committee, which accepted the recommendation of a hearing officer, NJ.com reported.
A second officer, Sgt. Mandy Grey, was demoted and suspended for six months for replying to a comment on Erwin’s June 2020 post, their attorney Frank Crivelli told The Post Tuesday.
“The fact that she supported her position as a fellow officer, that was the reason that they actually suspended her,” Crivelli said of Grey.
While writing under the username Sara Elizabeth on Facebook, Erwin said her children were crying for her not to go to work on June 8 — two weeks after George Floyd’s police-custody death in Minneapolis sparked heated protests nationwide.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt the way I did last night,” Erwin’s post read. “And then I watched people I know and others I care about going into harms way. I love police family like my own.”
Erwin then asked others to “think” before sharing posts on the social media platform.
“I’ve seen so many black lives matter hashtags in these posts,” the post continued. “Just to let you know – they are terrorists. They hate me. They hate my uniform. They don’t care if I die.”
Six township employees, including five members of the police department, were put on leave for appearing to support Erwin’s post, The Trentonian reported in June.
Hopewell Township Police Chief Lance Maloney, who has since retired, declined to identify the employees at the time, but a source identified them as Grey, Detective Mark Panzano, Officers Erwin and John Ferner, dispatcher Gregory Peck and public works truck driver Steve Harbat, the newspaper reported.
Erwin urged anyone who backed Black Lives Matter to “unfriend” her, prompting Panzano, Grey, Ferner, Peck and Harbat to show support for the post, according to the report.
Grey had been promoted to sergeant the previous year, department officials announced on Facebook in February 2019. Panzano, meanwhile, received a letter of commendation for his actions during a house fire earlier that month.
Erwin’s post was investigated by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, but no criminal charges were filed. The township handled the discipline doled out Friday, NJ.com reported.
Erwin was hired by the department in 2001, while Grey had been employed since 1999. Both had “absolutely spotless records” with no internal affairs complaints prior to the Facebook post, Crivelli said.
“They’re trying to make an example out of them, and in my view, they’re pandering to the far left,” Crivelli said of the township’s decision.
Appeals in Superior Court citing First Amendment concerns on behalf of Erwin and Grey are underway. Erwin wants her job back, while Grey is seeking to have her rank restored, Crevelli said.
Panzano, Ferner, Peck and Harbat received written reprimands and remain employed by the township, Crevelli said.
Hopewell Township Police Director Robert Karmazin, who took over the department in November, did not return a message seeking comment Tuesday. He declined to address the discipline Monday, as did township committee member Julie Blake, who serves as mayor, citing personnel confidentiality, NJ.com reported.
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