Cleveland officers facing internal charges for alleged racist texts

CLEVELAND – The Fox 8 I-Team is digging into explosive text messages with racial slurs allegedly sent by Cleveland police officers.

The messages coming to light as the officers involved, Detective John Kraynik and Officer Aaron Petitt, are facing disciplinary actions for texts messages officials say they sent.

Internal Affairs officials found the text messages while they were investigating another case.

According to pre-disciplinary letters issued to the officers, Kraynik is alleged to have sent text messages that “used disparaging and racial remarks when referencing African-American football players.”

And Petitt is accused of using “disparaging remarks when referencing an Arabic male during a potential police action.”

Jeff Follmer, the president of the police union, says he doesn’t believe the officers should face discipline because the texts were sent on their personal phones, and while they were off duty. Follmer says the officers’ statements are protected by the First Amendment.

The union has filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent the city from disciplining the two officers. That lawsuit is still pending.

Vincent Montague, the president of the Cleveland Black Shield Union, however, says he is upset the comments were made by police officers.

“The messages are disparaging and it’s unfortunate that people on a police department think that way,” Montague said. “The department has made a lot of reform and we don’t want to lose that trust that we have gained with the community.”