Austin police officer suspended for calling protester ’gay’ based on their clothing – News – Austin American-Statesman

An Austin police officer has been temporarily suspended following an internal affairs investigation into homophobic comments he reportedly made while describing a person at a Black Lives Matter protest in May.

While on duty to respond to a large number of protesters in front of Austin police headquarters on May 30, Officer Ryan Seweryn described one of the demonstrators as “that gay dude with the short shorts in the black shirt,” according to the disciplinary memo, signed by Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley on Nov. 25.

The protester who Seweryn described may have been pointing a laser pointer at a helicopter, the memo said, adding that Seweryn’s comments were recorded on his body-worn camera. The internal affairs investigation was spurred by a complaint made by a commander at the department on Nov. 13, according to the memo.

When asked to explain his comments during the investigation, Seweryn claimed that he was not describing the sexual orientation of the protester, but rather their style of clothing, according to the memo.

In the conclusion of the memo, Manley wrote that Seweryn did not take responsibility for his conduct and tried to justify his description of the protester.

“While he acknowledged that his conduct is inconsistent with APD training and expectations, he did not accept that there was anything wrong with the assumptions, description, and stereotype he made,” the memo stated.

Seweryn was suspended for ten days — from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5 — for violating the department’s rules related to impartial attitude and courtesy, the memo said. He will also have to go through additional training, according to the memo.

Seweryn served a separate ten-day suspension earlier this year for posting an old booking photo of a fellow Austin police officer, according to disciplinary documents.

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