Lt. Ray Albers of the St. Ann Police Department in Missouri has been indefinitely suspended from the force after video footage showed him pointing his semi-automatic assault rifle and threatening to kill protesters during Tuesday night’s demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Albers, who was identified by St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez, is a 20-year veteran of the department.
St. Louis County Police Officer Brian Schellman confirmed to the Post-Dispatch that Albers pointed the weapon at the peaceful protester after some “verbal exchange.” Schellman told the news site that a St. Louis County sergeant made Albers lower the rifle and removed him from the area.
"The unified command strongly feel these actions are inappropriate, and not indicative of the officers who have worked daily, to keep the peace," Schellman said in a statement, according to the Post-Dispatch.
A YouTube video of the incident surfaced in which Albers could be seen pointing the gun at the crowd, apparently saying, “I will f—cking kill you. Get back.”
Albers then told someone who asked his name to “go f—k yourself.”
Jimenez said that Albers’ actions were in response to seeing what could have been a BB gun in the background; Albers apparently wanted members of the media to move.
“The media person refused to cooperate, and in an attempt to keep the public safe, my officer used profanity with the public and told the media person that he was going to kill him if he didn't move,” Jimenez explained to the Post-Dispatch in an email. “We certainly do not condone the verbiage that was used and the officer will be counseled on his choice of words. The St. Ann Police Department regrets this unfortunate situation and hopes for a peaceful resolution in Ferguson.”
Albers, who has been suspended without pay, is also expected to go through psychological evaluation as well as sensitivity training, the news site reports.
Although Jimenez said that he did not like the language Albers used, the chief also stated that he stood “by [Albers] if he felt like his life was in danger, if he thought someone raised a gun, which wasn’t captured.”
Read more at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.