KANKAKEE — The deputy chief of the Kankakee Police Department was reprimanded for one of his Facebook posts in 2016, the city confirms.
As part of a federal lawsuit, former police officer Michael Shreffler alleges Lt. Willie Hunt was reprimanded for a number of “egregious, racially charged posts” on Facebook. He further asserted Hunt received a written reprimand after Shreffler reported the posts to then-Police Chief Larry Regnier.
In its Sept. 4 response to the lawsuit, the city admitted Hunt, now the deputy chief, received a reprimand for one Facebook post. But it denied the allegation it was racially charged.
The lawsuit did not specify the content of the Facebook posts.
Hunt did not return a call for comment.
Shreffler’s lawsuit also noted that Price Dumas, who was police chief from 2017 to 2018, searched a state criminal database to investigate people who criticized Dumas and Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong on social media. Dumas told state police he ran one of the people through the system because the person took a picture of the mayor’s city car in the City Hall parking lot and posted it on Facebook, the lawsuit said.
The city denied these allegations, even though public records show otherwise. Last year, the Daily Journal obtained a document indicating that Dumas entered the names of the critics into the database. In an interview, the chief said he investigated one of them because of the photo of the car. Three weeks after the newspaper broke the story in July 2018, Dumas abruptly resigned.
Recently, more than 70 percent of police officers voted they had no confidence in Hunt, Commander Donnell Austin and Police Chief Frank Kosman.
In his lawsuit, Shreffler, who is white, said he was the victim of discrimination. He said his superiors twisted his comments as racist. He said he received a written reprimand about his criticism of music star Beyonce’s 2016 Super Bowl halftime performance, where she dressed as a Black Panther.
Chief Regnier reprimanded him, the lawsuit said. Regnier is white; Hunt and Dumas are black.
Shreffler was fired in 2018, but was never given a list of charges supporting the termination and was not given due process, according to the lawsuit.
No trial date has been set.