COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Richland County deputy is facing social media backlash after alleged comments attributed to him have been deemed "thoughtless and inappropriate" by his employer and community members.
The man, identified on social media as Lt. Phil Tessier, allegedly called the teens involved in a series of incidents at the Village at Sandhills over the weekend "thugs" and "animals."
The comments were made on a Facebook post recalling an incident from Saturday night at the Village at Sandhills where a large crowd of teens was fighting in the area. The incident's aftermath was shown on the popular A&E show LIVE PD and originally investigated as a shots fired call. Despite the investigation, no one was found injured and no gun was ever recovered.
The context of the post written by Richland 2 School District board member Monica Elkins - which has a number of shares and likes - and speaks on the sadness of the incident and how the community could come together to stop them.
The comments attributed to Lt. Tessier have since been removed or deleted but not before screenshots were taken and shared on social media.
The comments, allegedly made by Lt. Tessier, say: "Ok they are not children. Going to the Village at Sandhills to watch fights, that is gang and thug mentality. Animals."
Commentor Jenny Nelson responded: "This is your attitude as a law enforcement officer? Animals?? Thugs?? I am sick."
In response, Tessier defended his comment saying their behavior puts other citizens lives at risk and told Nelson she was "entitled to your opinion."
In response to our inquiry, a spokesperson for the sheriff's department confirmed the deputy made the comments and called the comments "stupid and inappropriate." The spokesperson also said disciplinary actions have been taken toward Lt. Tessier.
According to his biography on the RCSD website, Lt. Tessier is an Air Force veteran and been with the sheriff's department since February 1999.
As for the curfew at the Village at Sandhill, teens under the age of 16 cannot be at the mall after 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays without being accompanied by an adult. The rules were aimed at discouraging parents from leaving their children on the property unsupervised.
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