A Police Officer Was Removed From Patrol After "Disturbing" Instagram Posts During Violent Protests
“The images depicted here are very disturbing and are not in line with the high standards we hold our officers accountable for,” Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said.
The Long Beach Police Department in California has launched an internal investigation after one of its newest officers posted pictures of himself standing over a bloody floor holding his baton after a day of violent protests in the city.
"The images depicted here are very disturbing and are not in line with the high standards we hold our officers accountable for," Chief Robert Luna said in a statement.
Demonstrators clashed with police Sunday as what had begun as a peaceful protest turned violent, with some people looting stores and throwing bottles at police, and officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and journalists. It was part of ongoing nationwide protests against police violence after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
In the middle of Sunday's mayhem, police officer Jacob Delgado posted pictures of himself on his personal Instagram account heading to the protests. While protesters faced off with police, the 26-year-old posted a picture of his black baton over a bloodied floor.
It's unclear where in the city Delgado was deployed during the unrest, but he was one of the dozens of officers who responded as city officials and police looked to quell looting and violence.
The officer ended up deleting the picture from his Instagram story, but not before one of his siblings picked up the image and added a caption of his own.
"Bro getting his," he wrote.
Police officials told BuzzFeed News the department's social media policy requires officers to "use appropriate discretion when posting photographs or speech that may jeopardize investigations or discredit our Department."
"Upon conclusion of this investigation, disciplinary action will be taken, if necessary," the department said in a statement.
As he headed toward the protests and before posting the picture with the bloodied floor, Delgado also posted a picture of himself and two other officers sitting in the back of a police cruiser making the shaka sign.
"Back up, on the way," a caption on the picture read.
The department did not answer BuzzFeed News questions regarding whether Delgado was involved in any use-of-force incidents during his patrol Sunday. He has been removed from patrol, the department said.
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the department deployed four times as many officers as typical during Sunday's protests.
By Thursday afternoon, after BuzzFeed News reached out to the Long Beach Police Department about the pictures, Delgado's Instagram account had been deleted. His brother also deleted his account.
Delgado is a new officer in the Long Beach police department. He joined the force in May 2019 after graduating from the academy and completing 27 weeks of training, according to a press release from the department celebrating the new recruits.
Amid days of protests about police brutality around the country, images of officers' at-times violent response have also sparked new outrage.
In DC Monday, peaceful protesters were gassed and struck with shields and batons as police cleared a park near the White House, just moments before President Donald Trump walked out to take pictures in front of a church. On Tuesday, a Denver police officer who posted a picture of himself with the caption "Let's start a riot" was fired. The same day, six Atlanta police officers who were seen violently detaining college students during protests there were charged by local officials after video of the incident was released.
Long Beach has itself dealt with scrutiny over police force in the past. To address some of those issues, the department has added training for officers that addresses mental health and racial inequality, and has mandated that officers wear body cameras.
Addressing protesters gathered at City Hall Wednesday, Mayor Robert Garcia issued an apology to demonstrators on behalf of the city.
"I want to apologize to every black person here for all the bullshit they have to go through," he said.
In his statement, Luna said the police department would continue to make changes.
"We will continue to work on re-building our public trust and we ask that the actions of one don't deter you from the great things we do every day to keep our community safe."