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Detective who appeared to mock Seattle protesters hit by car faces possible termination

The detective, Mike Brown, was placed on leave in July and an internal investigation was launched over the social media posts.

A King County Sheriff's Office detective in Washington state faces possible termination over offensive Facebook posts, including one where he appeared to mock a Seattle protester who was killed and another who was injured after they were hit by a car.

The detective, Mike Brown, was placed on leave in July and an internal investigation was launched over the social media posts. One image posted on July 4 showed a vehicle hitting a group of people with the caption "All lives splatter" and "Keep your (expletive) off the road."

Earlier that day, Summer Taylor, 24, and Diaz Love, 32, were hit by a car after a vehicle drove onto an interstate that had been closed for protests sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Taylor, from Seattle, was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and later died. Love, from Bellingham, was hospitalized in serious condition.

The driver, Dawit Kelete, 27, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, according to the Associated Press.

The sheriff's office said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that the investigation into the detective's posts was complete and undersheriff Patti Cole-Tindall "is recommending Detective Brown’s employment at KCSO be terminated."

The office says Brown now has a right to a meeting with Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, who will make the ultimate decision about disciplinary action — including termination. KCSO and Brown's union representatives have yet to schedule that meeting.

Cole-Tindall said in a memo that the department received hundreds of complaints after Brown's July 4 post and the investigation uncovered seven other offensive posts and messages.

"The blow to the department’s integrity was staggering. The damage to your integrity and ability to continue to serve as a law enforcement officer cannot be repaired," Cole-Tindall wrote.

According to the investigative report from KCSO, seen by NBC News, Brown posted a comment on his July 4 post writing, “I see a couple of people got infected with Covid-19 from the hood of a car on I-5 last night." And in June, he posted a video showing an officer in Baltimore punching a Black woman after she punched his partner. He captioned the video, "When in doubt... Knock em out," the file shows.

Another post included a video of a movie clip showing an officer shooting people. Brown captioned it, “Here they come CHOP CHAZ," referring to Seattle's Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Zone, which was formed in June by demonstrators protesting police brutality and the death of Floyd.

The zone, formerly known as CHAZ, became a self-sufficient community after the Seattle Police Department vacated the East Precinct. In late June, Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered officers to clear out demonstrators following a string of shootings within the zone.

During an interview with an investigator, Brown said he did not know that his posts were offensive and said he posted the meme on July 4 because it reminded him of his father who had recently passed away.

Brown told an investigator that when he was a child, his dad would tell him to "go play in the freeway" whenever he got mad, according to a transcript that was included in the report. The detective said he didn't make the connection between "All lives splatter" and "Black Lives Matter."

"And so that's what I was thinking, along those lines. I wasn't thinking along the lines of making light of it or making light of the movement," he said.

"My perception of it at the time was that you go on the freeway at 1:30 in the morning, bad things are going to happen and that's what I was looking at," he continued. "Like, 'Well, if you hadn't been on the freeway, you would have been okay.'

Cole-Tindall wrote in her memo that his comments were "extremely insensitive to the victims of a suspected serious vehicular assault."

Brown, who has been employed with the department for over 40 years, and the King County Police Officers Guild could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.