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Austin Police Officer Suspended Over 'Gay' Comment on Body Cam

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday November 30, 2020

A photo of the May 30 rally in Austin
A photo of the May 30 rally in Austin  (Source:KVUE)

Austin police officer Ryan Seweryn has been suspended for ten days for referring to a protester as "that gay dude," KVUE reports.

A disciplinary memo obtained by the local news station indicates that on May 30, officer Seweryn was assigned to the Mobile Field Force where a large number of protesters had gathered outside of the Austin Police Department Headquarters. Recorded by his body camera, Seweryn pointed out one specific protester as "that gay dude with the short shorts in the black shirt." Apparently, the protester had been aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter which, as KVUE states, "is potentially dangerous and could be considered a criminal act."

The disciplinary memo indicates that officer Seweryn did not take responsibility for his comments, nor did he seem to think there was anything wrong with making presumptions based on stereotypes and biases.

Seweryn had also been suspended in March, as KVUE explains, for "sending a text message containing a meme to two officers on his shift. The meme included a photograph with added captions of a current APD officer, which was taken when the officer was 17 years old and arrested for a low-level crime." After the text message was reported by one officer, Seweryn acknowledged that his "failed attempt at 'humor' was unwarranted, unprofessional and discourteous to his co-worker." In that instance, his 10-day suspension began Sept. 3. Officer Seweryn is currently serving his second sentence, which began Nov. 26 and ends Dec. 5.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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