Appellate Court Upholds Firing Over Police Shooting Posts

CLEVELAND (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld the firing of an emergency medical services captain who was dismissed over Facebook posts about Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy who was fatally shot by a white police officer.

Jamie Marquardt argued that the social media posts were protected free speech and that Cleveland violated his rights by firing him in 2016. He has maintained that the posts were added to his Facebook account by someone else. Marquardt later deleted the posts. In one post, Marquardt said that he was glad Tamir Rice was dead.

In their ruling issued Wednesday, the three-judge appellate court acknowledged the many freedoms that the First Amendment guarantees but also noted that "in this unique circumstance, defendants had an overriding interest in preserving the public’s trust in Cleveland EMS’s capacity to serve the public.” On that basis, the panel found the lower court was correct to grant summary judgment to the city and its EMS commissioner.

Rice was playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center in 2014 when a policeman who thought the weapon was real shot and killed him.