More Facebook fallout: Seven Philly cops retire while investigation continues

Seven Philadelphia police officers have resigned in recent days, weeks after their posts were included in the Plain View Project database of troubling Facebook posts by police officers. Among those who retired was one supervisor whose posts were highlighted by Injustice Watch.

A Philadelphia police sergeant is among seven members of the department whom Philadelphia news outlets reported have resigned after their Facebook posts were included in a database of offensive posts by officers in Philadelphia and seven other cities.

The Plain View Project database identified Sgt. Michael Melvin among 327 Philadelphia officers with troubling posts, Injustice Watch reported in June. That included 64 officers in leadership roles in the department, the Injustice Watch review found, a position that police experts said made their posts a matter of special concern.

Melvin was not only one of the 64; he also was among 138 officers with troubling posts who had been named in federal civil rights lawsuits.

Investigations that expose, influence and inform. Emailed directly to you.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported the resignation of Melvin and six other officers with offensive posts, which comes as the department has initiated steps to fire 13 officers, and hand out lesser penalties to many more. Department officials failed to respond Friday to requests for independent confirmation.

Department officials have not revealed the names of the officers they are seeking to fire, and told The Inquirer they are not permitted by law to reveal whether any or all of the seven who resigned were among the 13 the department has sought to fire.

Separately, the Philadelphia Tribune reported that Christian Fenico is among the officers that the department is seeking to dismiss. Fenico’s posts were among those highlighted by Injustice Watch.

Other departments, including Dallas and Phoenix, have said they are undertaking internal investigations based on the inclusion of their officers in the database.

The Inquirer reported Melvin’s resignation date to be July 22.

Melvin who went by Michael Vincent on Facebook, had 40 posts and comments included in the Plain View project database. That included a 2015 photo mocking the Black Lives Matter movement.

The image showed a large bulletin board adorned with printouts of dogs with handwritten captions. “Hands up don’t shoot,” one heading read, next to a dog with its paws in the air. “Dog lives matter.” The other, an image of a dog with her puppies, read, “Now who gonna feed my babies.”

Melvin was accused of being part of a cover-up in a wrongful death lawsuit that the city settled last November for $195,000.

Fenico, who posted on Facebook under the name Chris Joseph, posted in September, 2013, surveillance video of a would-be armed robber who backed out of a liquor store after the clerk pulled a gun on him. “Should have shot him,” Fenico wrote in his post.

In a post about refugees, he wrote, “Let them starve to death. I hate every last one of them.”

In its review of complaints against officers whose posts were included in the Plain View Project, Injustice Watch found the city paid $110,000 to settle a case brought by a man who said Fenico came to his home responding to a call and then beat him, breaking his nose, and choking him to unconsciousness even after his partner tried to pull him away, saying, “that’s enough,” the lawsuit said.

Another man’s lawsuit described the trouble that ensued after the family called police to report that a driver had hit a family member’s car and then attempted to flee. Fenico, one of the officers who responded to the call, ended up in an argument during which Fenico pointed his gun at the man, threatened to shoot him, and punched and choked him until he lost consciousness, according to the lawsuit. The man received $5,000.

The Inquirer reported the other officers, in addition to Melvin, who resigned after their Facebook posts were included in the Plain View Project: Officer Jesus Cruz, July 18; Officer Anthony Acquaviva, Officer Robert Bannan and Cpl. Thomas Young, July 19; Officer Joseph Fox; and Officer Edward McCammitt, July 23.