CMSD officer on leave after Tamir Rice comments

Posted at 7:13 PM, Jan 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-04 19:16:40-05

NOTE: This story contains language that may be offensive to some.

After NewsChannel 5 started asking questions, a Cleveland Metropolitan School District resource officer was put on paid administrative leave related to his controversial social media comments about Tamir Rice's death.

On Dec. 30, Matthew Cicero posted the following statement to his Facebook page:

Tamir Rice's momma just want money. . . raise your kids not to play with guns stupid b#$*& . . . 

When a Facebook friend responded that Tamir did not deserve to die, Cicero posted the following reply:

You pull out a gun you get shot. I don't have time to ask questions and coddle kids that wave guns around.

The WIlloughby Hills resident, who has worked for CMSD for five years, also posted a meme showing a man holding up a real gun in one hand and a fake gun in his other hand.

When NewsChannel 5 Investigator Sarah Buduson attempted to question Lester Fultz, CMSD Chief of Safety and Security, about Cicero's comments, he walked away without answering our questions Monday afternoon.

About an hour later, CMSD spokesperson Roseann Canfora sent us the following statement:

We are aware of and are taking seriously comments allegedly posted on social media by one of our school employees about Tamir Rice and his family.  The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave while we investigate the matter.

While we respect every employee’s right to freedom of speech, with those rights comes a responsibility to do so in ways that are appropriate and sensitive to others, particularly to the people we serve.

CEO Eric Gordon, who on December 30 cautioned all CMSD staff members to show respect for feelings on both sides of this difficult issue, said the hurtful comments in the alleged post are contrary to his expectation that staff will promote peace and understanding among those who disagree about or who struggle to make sense of this tragedy.

“The comments posted are particularly insensitive, considering that Officer Cicero works for the school district that served Tamir Rice and his family,” said CEO Eric Gordon. “Even as we grieve the tragic loss of this child to his family and to our entire school community, we are mindful of the very difficult job of our safety forces in our schools and our communities.  Neither our citizens nor those who police our communities should be painted with a broad brush, and I don’t believe we will ever find solutions to such complex issues through Facebook posts—especially posts that further divide us.”

NewsChannel 5 showed the statements to Ward 10 Cleveland Councilman Jeff Johnson. After reviewing the social media posts, Johnson said Cicero should be fired.

"It is disrespectful to women. It is disrespectful to African-Americans," he said.

"The fact that he's so insensitive and placing the blame of Tamir's death on Tamir, for me, that's enough for him not to be working with children in the Cleveland school system," said Johnson.

Cicero's facebook page was deleted a few hours after NewsChannel 5 called CMSD about the posts.

NewsChannel 5 Investigators reached out to Cicero. He told us he has no comment.


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