Cumberland County has suspended an employee over what it terms a racist social media post regarding the shooting death of a 5-year-old child in North Carolina.
Rome Smith, an officer with the county’s juvenile detention unit, was commenting on Facebook about the death of Cannon Hinnant, who was shot to death by a 25-year-old neighbor on Aug. 9. Some have claimed the killing was racially motivated, noting that the victim was white and the alleged shooter is Black.
Smith, who is Black, wrote that Cannon “should’ve ducked,” and put responsibility for the killing on the victim’s parents, according to screenshots of the post shared by others.
“Y’all always trying to sneak diss and discredit a black person being killed innocently by police. Blame cannon’s parents for not watching him,” Smith allegedly wrote.
Police in North Carolina say Darius Sessoms walked up to Cannon and shot the child in the head as he sat on his bicycle. No motive for the killing has been revealed, but the case has drawn widespread attention.
Smith’s post drew condemnation from many on social media.
His Facebook account and other social media outlets appear to have been disabled. Attempts to reach him for comment Tuesday morning were unsuccessful.
In a statement that did not identify Smith by name, county officials confirmed the suspension and condemned the remarks as “shockingly insensitive and racist in tone.”
As required by law, the investigation into this matter will remain confidential until the process is complete, Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella said.
“We will not tolerate County employees using social media to broadcast hateful messages,” Derella said. “This is not who we are and we intend to pursue the strongest action available to us.”
Records indicate Smith has been enrolled in the state pension system for 26 years and his salary is $56,678.
Cumberland County has shared service agreements to house its detained juveniles in other counties, but maintains a small staff for administrative purposes and for transportation of detainees to and from court appearances.