'If black shoot them': Letter reveals comments made by former Prospect asst. police chief

Published: Jan. 19, 2018 at 5:59 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2018 at 11:57 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - WAVE 3 News has uncovered explosive new evidence that revealed what forced the former Prospect assistant police chief to leave his post.

WAVE 3 News obtained a letter from Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell to the Prospect Mayor John Evans. The letter described racist comments attributed to Todd Shaw, which were discovered as part of LMPD's Youth Explorer Program investigation.

The comments appeared in Facebook messages sent by Shaw to a former LMPD recruit regarding the treatment of juvenile black suspects.

WAVE 3 News has also obtained several other private Facebook messages between Shaw at least two others which are also racially charged. The messages contain a handful of racist memes that were shared in those conversations.

>> Read letter, Shaw's Facebook messages (WARNING: Contains offensive language)

The messages date back to 2010.

Last year, WAVE 3 News submitted an open records request for the documents after learning that Shaw had been placed under an internal investigation by the Prospect police chief.

Shaw tried to block the release of the documents, but the City of Prospect and the Jefferson County Attorney's Office both argued for their release. Shortly after WAVE 3 News filed a request for an expedited hearing Thursday, the judge ruled against Shaw, effectively ordering the release.

"The documents reveal opinions and prejudices that bring into question Shaw's integrity as a law enforcement officer," Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman wrote. "The only alleged injury is Shaw's personal embarrassment."

>> Read judge's order to release documents

The Jefferson County Attorney's Office has redacted the documents where necessary.

In the letter we obtained, O'Connell quotes one message as reading "F*** the right thing," Shaw said in the messages. "If black shoot them." Shaw went on to say that "if mom is hot then f*** her.... if dad is hot then handcuff him and make him suck my d***.... Unless daddy is black... Then shoot him."

There are other racist statements that also describe shooting African Americans. To read the full statements, follow the link above.

"ML King was nothing but a racist (sic) womanizer...but because someone shot him, I get a day off with pay each year so I will take it," Shaw wrote.

"What has POLICING come to when all you can shoot are white people and injured deer," he said in yet another conversation.

Louisville Metro Council President David James is worried about how Shaw has acted towards residents of color and if any have been wrongfully arrested because of his apparent biases.

>> RELATED STORY: Demands for widespread action following officer's racist Facebook comments

"It only takes on incident like this one to cover the entire department with embarrassment, shame, humiliation," James said.

Near the end of the letter sent to Prospect's mayor and police chief, O'Connell wrote the following:

As Jefferson County Attorney, I feel compelled to notify and warn you of Shaw's deeply offensive and racist statements. There is no place in police departments for men or women who hold such strongly held prejudices, including recommending shooting people simply because of their race. It is also quite disturbing that Shaw, a senior law enforcement officer with more than 20 years of experience was expressing his offensive racist views with a young recruit, who at the time was training to be a Louisville Metro Police officer.

During an on-camera interview, O'Connell told WAVE 3 News the findings were "disgusting."

"I hope he never shows his face in Jefferson County again," O'Connell told us.

The bulk of the messages were between Shaw and an LMPD recruit. That recruit, whose name has not been released, quit before he finished LMPD's training.

Once Prospect Mayor John Evans received O'Connell's message, he told us he contacted the Prospect Police Chief Jeff Sherrard. The Chief suspended Shaw the next day and initiated an internal investigation. Shaw was later forced to resign.

Evans called the messages a "tragedy." He expressed concern for the vast majority of officers who represent the badge honorably.

Prospect Police release Todd Shaw's resignation letter
24 criminal cases to be dismissed following probe of former Prospect asst. police chief
Former Prospect Asst. Police Chief sues to stop release of Facebook messages in LMPD Explorer case
Prospect Assistant Chief resigns amid allegations of ties to LMPD Explorer Program scandal
Assistant Chief for Prospect Police suspended, under investigation

The statements led to the dismissal of 24 cases in which Shaw was the only witness.

A spokesperson for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer declined to make statement, and told us this was a police matter and that the Mayor leaves police matters to police. The Mayor, who often Tweets statements was silent on the matter Friday.

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad issued a statement on the revelations Friday afternoon:

"I am disgusted by the shocking and appalling statements released today – between the former Prospect Assistant Chief of Police Todd Shaw, and a former LMPD recruit. 

This former recruit was employed from 10/17/2016, until he resigned on 02/27/2017, prior to graduating LMPD's basic academy.  These statements came to light approximately 6 months after his resignation.  Had this information been discovered prior to his selection to recruit school – he would never have been considered for employment.

These atrocious, racist attitudes have no place in society – anywhere.

Any person, who holds these thoughts, has no business ever donning a uniform and representing those who have sworn to serve every member of every community.

These actions spit in the face of the determined effort hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers put forth to build trust and legitimacy in the communities they serve."

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.