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Shameless police officer suspended after calling protester ‘gay’ because he was wearing shorts

Emma Powys Maurice December 1, 2020
police officer

The police officer was grilled in an internal investigation (Robert Alexander/Getty)

A police officer was handed a 10-day suspension for describing a protester as “gay” because of the “feminine” clothes he wore.

Austin, Texas officer Ryan Seweryn was recorded on body-cam describing a man to his fellow officers as “that gay dude with the short shorts in the black shirt”.

An internal investigation found he’d used a harmful stereotype to refer to the citizen, breaching the department’s “responsibility to the community” policy. It also noted that this suspension is his second since September.

“If there was a male in feminine clothing I would describe that individual as gay … in order for my fellow officers to identify the individual,” Seweryn said when interviewed by internal affairs personnel.

He claimed he doesn’t assume a person’s sexual orientation based on how they dress, and only described the person that way because “the individual’s clothing was consistent with the clothing styles he believed people wore at Gay Pride parades.”

It was a “description of the clothing of the person, not a physical description of the person themselves,” he insisted.

Despite his ardent defence of his actions he confessed that he wouldn’t feel comfortable using that kind of descriptor over the radio.

The investigator asked if the APD training academy teaches cadets to use the term “gay” as a descriptor, to which the officer conceded that it did not. And when asked if he’d ever used the term “straight dude” to describe a subject, Seweryn was forced to admit he never had.

But he appeared to show no regret for his behaviour, as the memo concludes: “In spite of his unprofessional and inappropriate comment, officer Seweryn concluded his internal affairs interview by stating that he did not feel like he violated APD general orders.”

The officer will serve his 10-day suspension until 5 December. It follows his earlier 10-day suspension in September, concerning an “inappropriate and disrespectful” meme depicting one of his colleagues which he sent to two other officers.

 

More: Austin, Homophobia, police, police brutality, Texas

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