Robert J. Shelide, police chief of Shelby Township, deleted his Twitter when racist posts calling for violence drew public outrage. He’s now on paid leave pending investigation.
SHELBY TOWNSHIP, MI — A suburban Detroit police chief has been put on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation into social media posts in which he called for “body bags” for “vicious subhumans” protesting the death of George Floyd.
Shelby Township trustees put Robert J. Shelide on indefinite paid administrative leave. The township’s attorney, Robert Huth, explained that suspension with pay is proper during a pending investigation because all township workers are afforded the same right to due process “and enjoy a presumption of innocence.”
The posts were made on a now deleted Twitter account. Screenshots posted on Facebook show that one tweet read “Unleash real cops and let them take care of these barbarians.” Another read “Wild savages. I wish to God I would have been there. Body bags for these vicious subhumans.”
Shelide, who has been Shelby Township’s police chief since 2015, released a statement Thursday in which he apologized.
“While an apology is insufficient and an insult to the gravity of my comments, I humbly and respectfully ask for the courtesy of forgiveness to those I have offended, to my department and more importantly to those I am sworn to serve,” he wrote.
Shelide could not be reached for comment. His secretary referred The Detroit News to Brad Bates, the township’s director of communications, who did not reply to several voicemails.
Meanwhile, in western Michigan, the Lowell police chief was forced to resign after posting on social media that his police department was in support of four armed men who said they wanted to protect the small town from destructive protests.
“We at the Lowell Police Department support the legally armed citizen and the Second Amendment,” the chief wrote on the department’s Facebook page.
Chief Steven Bukala was told to resign by 5 p.m. Thursday or that he would be fired at 5:01 p.m., according to documents obtained Friday by News 8.
Bukala had worked for the Lowell Police Department since 1995 and was chief for seven years.
“We must take this opportunity to listen and learn so we can work together to defeat racism and build a more just and equitable society,” the department said in a public apology.