A police officer was fired on Dec. 1 after he was filmed by his own dash cam and body camera cursing at a teen and challenging him to a fight in Social Circle, Georgia, Nov. 23 (video below).
Social Circle Police Chief Tyrone Oliver terminated Officer James Sanders after an anonymous tipster blew the whistle, notes WGCL.
The police report said that one of the teens yelled, "F*** the police," notes The Huffington Post.
The Marshall Project reported in 2015 that cursing at police officers is legal, but people often get arrested for it, anyway. Courts have consistently sided with citizens as long as their cursing is not a threat and does not constitute fighting words.
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In the video, Sanders tells a 17-year-old boy: "Get out the Jeep. What’d you have to say?"
When the teen replies, "Nothing," Sanders bellows: "No, tell me one more time, and you’re going to jail, son."
Sanders then challenges the boy to a fight: "If you want to f*** the police, well, here I am, right here. brother ... I’m giving you every opportunity to f*** me up."
At another point in the video, Sanders threatens to use the so-called War on Drugs as a way to jail the teens: "If I go God***** jerking everybody out of that Jeep and find one ounce of weed, do you think I'm going to take everybody to jail?"
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Oliver told WGCL that Sanders had no legal right to stop the teens or search their car (which could mean a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department).
"It was completely uncalled for, unprovoked and it will not be tolerated here," Oliver told the news station.
Oliver defended the firing of Sanders: "We’re held to a higher standard and we have to conduct ourselves as such. We have to have tough skin and let things roll off our back."
Sanders would not comment about the situation to the news station, but said he is appealing his firing.
The Huffington Post notes that disciplinary records show Sanders got in trouble with the brass in 2014 when he allegedly threatened to send anthrax to Social Circle High School’s staff, use a stun-gun on a school official, and "blow up" the school.
These types of threats normally result in felony criminal charges for making terroristic threats, but Sanders was not charged.
A Change.org petition claims that Sanders was unfairly punished for his behavior toward the teens, notes The Huffington Post, and refers to Sanders as "an individual who solely acts with integrity, [protects and serves] his community, and an individual who is an integral part of Social Circle."
Brittany White, who created the petition, also defended Sanders in the alleged school incident to The Huffington Post: "[I]n no instance should anyone joke about such extreme things, however, his words were taken out of context, and were not even reported until several weeks after the incident."