NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Police Department suspended an officer for 10 days without pay after he called a woman a racial slur on Facebook while off-duty, according to Chief Christopher Edson.
Carissa Walters filed a complaint with the department Aug. 21 after Officer Jasen Markette called her a “mud shark” in a Facebook comment.
A “mud shark” is a derogatory term for a white woman who sleeps with a black man.
Edson said Markette’s conduct was “unbecoming of an officer,” and that he will receive extra training and will be placed on enhanced supervision to ensure that this was an isolated incident.
“His actions in no way reflect this department’s expectations of what our officers should behave like,” Edson said.
The complaint stemmed from an Aug. 16 Facebook debate in response to a meme referring to the Great Pyramids of Egypt as monuments to slavery.
That sparked an argument over whether Confederate statues should be taken down. This was shortly after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Walters, who is white, was in favor of removing such statues.
“In my group of Facebook friends, it had raised a lot of debates on that specific issue,” she said.
Another Facebook user questioned Walters’ right to speak on the issue, saying that just because her kid is black doesn’t give her the right to be an almighty know-it-all.
“Wait Clarissa your a mud shark?,” Markette wrote. “Bwhahahaha now it makes sense hahahhahha.”
He then proceeded to call her “MUD SHARK” in all capital letters two more times.
Walters said although she had received plenty of “looks and comments” when with her 6-year-old son and his father, who is black, she had never heard the term “mud shark” before and had to look it up.
She said she was disgusted, hurt and astonished that someone would be so blatantly racist in a comment.
Although she had never met Markette, they had several friends in common.
Walters, who is originally from Naugatuck, moved to Massachusetts 10 years ago.
She said she filed the complaint because she was afraid Markette, in his duties as a police officer, may treat biracial couples differently.
“It was mostly because I was worried about anybody who was either in an interracial relationship or who is mixed. I was worried that he wouldn’t be fair,” Walters said.
She said she spoke to Edson, who told her that the department investigated Markette’s history and didn’t find anything in his files that make them worried that he’s been racist as a police officer.
Walters said that after she posted the conversation on her own Facebook page, Markette changed his profile picture and sent her a message threatening to file charges against her for harassment and defamation of character. However, he has not followed through on that threat, she said.
“I think those were just ways to get this to go away,” Walters said.
Police denied the Republican-American a request for a copy of the complaint and said they would consult with their attorney before releasing any further information regarding the internal affairs investigation or Markette’s history of awards and commendations.
Markette has been an officer with the Naugatuck department for a little over 10 years, Edson said.
Naugatuck Police Union President Sgt. C. Colin McAllister said the union does not condone Markette’s language.
“As a police union, we are particularly sensitive to the ways that words can be used to divide us. The men and women of the Naugatuck Police Union strive to be a uniting force in the community we serve, regardless of race or ethnicity,” McAllister said.