BATTLE FOR THE FIRST: Florida officer suspended for social media post criticizing anti-gun activist David Hogg’s Publix store protest

Coconut Creek, Fla. — A veteran police officer who made comments criticizing anti-gun activist David Hogg will be suspended from his job without pay for 5 days and undergo sensitivity training, the city’s police chief told CBS 4 News.

Brian Valenti of the Coconut Creek Police Department, called out Hogg in a Facebook post over last week’s “die-in” protest at Publix organized by survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, saying maybe an old woman would “lose control of her car” and strike Hogg on his way out of the protest.

“He made a horrible error in judgment,” said Coconut Creek Police Chief Butch Arenal, of Valenti’s comments.

“When we are on or off duty we have a special role in our community and he understands that,” Arenal said. “He is extremely remorseful and is very embarrassed by the situation.”

Arenal said there were calls to fire Valenti — mostly from people out of state — but due to Valenti’s 23 year time on the job and his issuance of a public apology, Arenal felt a 5-day suspension without pay and “sensitivity” training served as sufficient punishment.

“If we felt in any way, shape or form that this was an actual threat against people, with an intent to carry it out, obviously that would be a completely different set of circumstances,” Arenal said. “There’s just nothing worse that could happen than to create a perception that out officers have any ill will towards these kids.”

Rod Skirvin, a union representative for the Coconut Creek Police, told CBS 4 News that Valenti deeply regrets his public comments and thought his post was being shared on a private forum.

““He’s distraught over the fact that he’s brought embarrassment to the department, the city, police in general,” Skirven said.

Skirven says Valenti has received multiple death threats and has offered to apologize again publicly to anyone he may have offended.

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