Black Kentucky cop fired for giving information to BLM protester
A Kentucky cop has been fired for allegedly leaking police information to a Black Lives Matter protester after he claims his department ignored his concerns about internal racism.
Jervis Middleton, a black officer with the Lexington Police Department, was accused of contacting activist Sarah Williams in May of last year and giving her details about tactics police intended to use in response to protests over the death of George Floyd.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council unanimously voted to fire Middleton on Friday after determining that his actions put fellow officers in jeopardy.
But Middleton’s attorney, Keith Sparks, argued that the information he provided to Williams was covered by free speech and that he didn’t put anyone at risk, saying: ‘The only harm is imagined harm.’
Sparks also claimed that Middleton had been frustrated because his complaints about racism within the LPD had gone unaddressed.
Jervis Middleton (pictured) was fired from the Lexington Police Department on Friday after being accused of leaking information about tactics police intended to use in response to George Floyd protests last May
Middleton was accused of contacting activist Sarah Williams in May of last year and giving her details about tactics police intended to use in response to protests over the death of George Floyd. Pictured: A woman confronts police at a protest on May 31
An LPD memorandum obtained by LEX18 described how Middleton allegedly contacted Williams via text and Facebook Messenger to give her ‘official Lexington Police Department law enforcement sensitive information via screen shots of text messages and emails that gave away information on tactics the agency was, or were, planning to use’ during protests.
One email detailing the tactics had been sent to Williams as part of a request for him to work overtime during the anticipated protest on May 31 over Floyd’s death.
Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white cop knelt on his neck during an arrest.
In addition to providing information about tactics, Middleton also told Williams which officers would be working at protests and his colleagues complaints about feeling ‘targeted’ by protesters, according to the memorandum.
Williams was described in the memorandum as a ‘known protestor who organized the Police Accountability Protest in Lexington Kentucky, beginning sometime in May 2020’.
She was arrested during a protest on June 13, and investigators uncovered her messages with Middleton after obtaining a search warrant for her cell phone and Facebook profile.
In one string of messages, Middleton wrote: ‘Moving the needle…’
Williams replied: ‘Well lol…thanks for the heads up.’
Middleton wrote back: ‘Agency just issued an emergency order..so they will be out in riot gear tonight too.’
In another set of messages, Middleton wrote: ‘Tell them, Middleton said FTP!’ FTP stands for ‘f**k the police’.
Middleton allegedly sent that message while Williams was at a protest shouting at responding officers through a megaphone.
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council unanimously voted to fire Middleton (center) on Friday after determining that his actions put fellow officers in jeopardy
When questioned by internal investigators, Middleton said he and Williams were longtime friends and described his conversation with her as ‘venting’.
He also said he had an understanding with Williams that ‘she was not to use any of the information he provided’.
Middleton claimed that he personally wanted to see a change within the LPD after witnessing ongoing discrimination and being targeted with racist taunts himself.
The memorandum outlined three charges against Middleton for violating police policies, including misconduct, sharing police information and lying about contacting Williams.
The county council met on Thursday for a nine-hour hearing over the charges.
After two hours of deliberation, the council found Middleton guilty of the first two charges but dismissed the third charge.
The council’s ruling followed recommendations to fire Middleton from Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers and an internal disciplinary board.
Middleton claimed that he personally wanted to see change within the LPD after witnessing ongoing discrimination and being targeted with racist taunts himself