School resource officer removed for posting students’ photos on personal social media

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 12:28 PM EDT
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UPDATED to clarify name of school

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. (Englewood Sun) - The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office has removed a resource officer from Myakka River Elementary School after he posted videos of students on social media.

Deputy Booker Richardson recorded videos of students playing football at the school and posted them to his personal TikTok account, which he shared with students.

According to our reporting partners at the Englewood Sun, he had also been playing online video games and communicating with students after school hours on social media.

On May 13, Richardson, who posted about 20 videos on TikTok, recorded a student dropping a pass while playing football and uploaded it to the social media platform. The video attracted negative comments “full of insults” directed toward the student, according to the investigation report.

The student reportedly approached Richardson the next day and begged him to take it down. Richardson removed the video.

The school district that day contacted the CCSO, which began an internal affairs investigation about the incident.

Teacher Michelle Brady told internal affairs investigators that she noticed the student was “not acting like normal” the day after the post.

“(The student) got ‘teary-eyed’ immediately and explained that there was a video on TikTok showing him missing a pass, and he wanted it taken down,” she said in the report.

After interviewing all those involved, Internal Affairs Sgt. Terry Cochran sustained the charges against Richardson of conduct unbecoming an officer and violation of official procedures, specifically regarding social media.

“I do not believe Deputy Richardson acted with any malice or ill intent, however, his actions created undesired consequences for students at this assigned school,” Deputy Chief Col. Michael Casarella wrote in the report. “He exhibited poor judgement in his decisions.”

Sheriff Bill Prummell also agreed with the findings, stating Richardson would receive a written reprimand, be removed from the SRO program, and be required to complete a presentation to staff on professionalism in public service and the appropriate use of social media.

The student told investigators that Richardson had given out pieces of paper with the screen names of his social media and gaming accounts a few weeks into the school year.

Richardson admitted to investigators that his actions were a mistake.

“It was a way to reach out to the students and make a positive impact in their lives,” he said in the report, “and to motivate kids because they couldn’t play until their homework was completed.”

Richardson went on to say that he plays games online with his family, friends and others, and posts about it on social media.

He also used Discord, a group messaging platform, to communicate with fellow gamers, some of them students from school and from the basketball and football camps he coaches.

Richardson told investigators that he could see where someone could think it was a deputy talking with a child, but that “this is not how it was meant (and) not how it is received by the students.”

Richardson is the second SRO to be pulled from a school in the last year over an allegation of misconduct. In December, David Imbruno was transferred from Vineland Elementary School to road patrol after the district discovered he was looking at pornography on his school-owned computer during school hours.

Richardson could not be reached for comment.

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