Capt. Thomas Flanders, left, and Detective Michael Sollenberger, right. (Photos: Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio and ABC22 news report )
Five sheriff’s deputies in Montgomery County, Ohio are under investigation for allegedly sending racially-motivated texted messages and slurs while both on and off duty.
Captain Thomas Flanders and Detective Michael Sollenberger were suspended on paid administrative leave pending the investigation according to Dayton, Ohio NBC affiliate WDTN. The names of three other deputies accused of participating in the texts were not immediately known.
The allegation came to light in August after the president of the Dayton chapter of the NAACP, Derrick Forward, alerted Sheriff Phil Plummer that he had received a complaint about the messages.
“These text messages, while some of them may be some joking going on back and forth, some of them are flat out rude and racist,” Forward told the television station.
Plummer acknowledged that the messages were sent from the deputies’ personal cell phones and did have racial undertones and were considered inappropriate. Newsone reported that the text messages were exchanged between 2011 and 2013.
The texts between the deputies included one threatening to stab a Black person at a local bar while describing the particular individual as a “coon.” Another message read, “I hate n—–s. That is all,” and “What do apples and Black people have in common? They both hang from trees.”
Flanders and his wife denied the allegations to WTDN. Flanders said the allegations were “completely false,” and claimed he has yet to see a transcript of the text messages.
“These five individuals have taken this organization three steps backward and will be held accountable,” Plummer said at a press conference. “I will not tolerate racism in this department.”
Foward called for an immediate termination of the deputies if indeed they were responsible for the text messages.
The allegations come in the wake of widespread protests after grand juries in Missouri and New York did not bring charges against two White police officers in the shooting death of Michael Brown and choking death of Eric Garner, respectively.