HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - An Alabama sheriff's deputy was placed on administrative leave after making anti-LGBTQ comments on a Facebook post of a news story referencing the recent suicide of a 15-year-old boy.
The Madison County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday that the officer, identified by WHNT as Deputy Jeff Graves, was placed on administrative leave over the comments.
Graves's now deleted comments were posted in response to a news story about residents in Huntsville raising awareness about LGBTQ bullying. The story came after the death of 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, who died by suicide after he was bullied for being gay, according to his family.
Jeff Graves reportedly responded to the story, writing from his personal Facebook account:
That's my kind of LGBTQ
I'm seriously offended that there is such a thing such as this movement. Society cannot and should not except this behavior. I have a right to be offended and will always be offended by this fake movement which requires no special attention but by persons with an altered ego and fake agenda.
“Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop," Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said in a statement. "The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is proud of the community support and engagement we have received over the years, and we look forward to growing those community partnerships."
The sheriff's office said that "a thorough and complete audit will be conducted" over Graves's comments and "appropriate action will be taken."
WHTP spoke to attorney Mark McDaniel, who explained that although Graves has freedom of speech under the First Amendment, he worked under a department policy that restricted what he was allowed to say publicly.
"You have a right to freedom of speech, but if you have a policy--if you work for a corporation and you go out and you say something that reflects badly on that corporation, you're probably going to get fired or suspended," said McDaniel.
Watch WHNT's report below:
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