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Orlando officer who called people 'savages' fights suspension

Robert Schellhorn was suspended for 2 weeks

ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando police officer who made an offensive Facebook post last year is trying to get his suspension reduced through an arbitration hearing at Orlando City Hall.

Officer Robert Schellhorn was suspended for two weeks after he made an offensive post on Facebook last year, using what some called racial slurs about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

"What exactly are the 'black rights' that these useless savages are standing up for?" Shellhorn wrote. "Do black folks somehow have different or greater rights than everyone else?"

Schellhorn denied his comments were racist, but he was suspended for two weeks. Schellhorn was reassigned to the airport division and remains on full duty.

Schellhorn also came under fire in September when body-camera video surfaced showing him calling clubgoers outside the Parliament House on Orange Blossom Trail "savages."

"Typically, Sunday nights are just busy, but all these (expletive) savages that have (expletive) come out," Schellhorn is heard telling another officer. "Time to go, savages. Go."

The Orlando Police Citizens' Review Board has called for Schellhorn to be fired.

During the hearing Thursday, Orlando police internal affairs manager Dwain Rivers said the Facebook comments made were offensive and went against policy. He said he reviewed the investigative findings and supports the officer being disciplined. 
 
The police union representative spent the day questioning city policy, including the inconsistencies of how officers are disciplined. The representatives gave examples of other officers who made similar social media post in the past and received less suspension time.

Since the incident, the Orlando Police Department changed its social media policy to include termination as a possible discipline.
 
The police union called Schellhorn’s former supervisor, Richard Ruth, a former lieutenant, to testify to the officer's character.

Ruth said Schellhorn's work performance was exemplary. Ruth said there was a previous complaint made by a driver who said Schellhorn pulled him over because he was black. The former supervisor couldn't recall any other complaints made by anyone saying they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation prior to the incident at Parliament House.

Ruth said Schellhorn was one of the first officers on scene when Orlando police Sgt Debra Clayton was shot trying to arrest double-homicide suspect Markeith Lloyd. Ruth said Schellhorn performed CPR on Clayton and tried to save her life.
 
Ruth agreed officers should be held to a higher standard. He said Schellorn never denied making the Facebook post and could see how the post could offend someone. Ruth said Schellorn admitted to being angry when he made the post, but never identified himself as an Orlando police officer in Facebook post.

The arbitrator finished hearing testimony from Schellhorn on Friday.

The police union and the city must submit written briefs to the arbitrator by Feb. 4 arguing their side. A spokesperson for the city said a final decision could take up to two months.


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