Sunflower County Sheriff James Haywood has publicly called for the termination of a Moorhead police officer after an alleged racially-charged comment from the officer began circulating this week on social media.
Moorhead police officer Jerry Pate, who was one of Haywood’s opponents in the 2019 election cycle, told The Enterprise-Tocsin on Wednesday that he was hacked and claims it is not the first time something like this has happened.
Nevertheless, Moorhead Police Chief Fred Randle told The E-T on Thursday morning that Pate has been placed on administrative leave, with pay.
Randle said that he has talked with Pate, and the officer denied making the post in question and the situation would be further addressed at a special call meeting of the Moorhead City Council on Monday.
The comment in question was an apparent response to the Derek Chauvin murder conviction on Tuesday.
“That is bull**** how can you charge a man three times for the same crime don’t worry they done this because he is white so white people let’s go after black cops now that kill us," the post said.
Pate, who is white, is adamant that he did not make the post.
“I didn’t know nothing about that thing,” Pate said of the comment, until a screenshot was sent to him on Wednesday.
Pate alleges a similar hack took place when he was running for office two years ago.
“When I was running for sheriff and stuff, they went in there and posted some bull crap under a profile of mine,” Pate said.
When pressed, Pate again denied writing the post.
“No, that’s what I’m saying,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out what the hell this is.”
Pate said he reached out to Facebook and Now This, the media company whose story prompted the comment.
“I’m trying to find out,” he said. “I’ve opened up an investigation with Facebook.”
Haywood isn’t buying it.
“Yeah, tell him to prove it,” Haywood told The E-T. “If he gives a documented statement from Facebook saying that his page was hacked, I’ll believe him then.”
Pate admitted that he was familiar with Now This and had previously blocked the site from his Facebook feed.
“Now (This) kept coming across my phone, and I had blocked them, because I didn’t like the crap,” Pate said.
Pate is no stranger to controversial posts.
Pate contributed a comment to a thread of another national story a few weeks ago that contained a racial slur, but he admitted to The E-T that he had written that post.
“Why is it ok for a black person to call each other n****** but when another race says it then they get offended. You notice they have a black reporter that is so racist,” the post said.
Pate offered justification for the post.
“Yeah, I posted that one, because why is it okay for them to call each other, but we can’t?” Pate said. “It’s making us look racist and stuff. I don’t call them that. I’m against that.”
Haywood said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that “As the chief law enforcement officer of Sunflower County, I am speaking for all law enforcement officers in Sunflower County. We are appalled by the (alleged) statement Jerry Pate made about going after black officers, who lawfully perform their job. I have asked the chief of Moorhead Police Department and the mayor of Moorhead to terminate the employment of officer Pate.”