Facebook Post Leads To Firefighter Suspension

A Facebook posting about a fatal dirt bike accident in June is continuing to raise troubling questions for a Long Island firefighter and his fire department.

Jon-Paul Brechter was suspended on June 24, 2017 from the Holbrook Fire Department, one day after he posted insensitive remarks on Facebook about an accident that killed two young men on a stolen dirt bike in nearby North Bellport. The men, Keenen King, 19, and Anthony Holmes-Garriques, 20, were struck by the brother of the bike’s owner who along with the owner were pursuing the stolen bike. The driver, Christopher Bouchard, 27, was charged with reckless endangerment. The bike’s owner, Brian Bouchard, 31, has not been charged.

The post that caused the problem for Brechter was as follows:

“Good for them. He shouldn’t be charged. He should be given a medal. Two less _______ that others have to deal with. When this country was great the penalty for stealing someone’s horse was death by hanging #MAGA Bring back public lynchings.”

Newsday is reporting that Abena Asare, who sought to complain to the Holbrook Fire Department about Brechter’s post, found photos of Confederate flags on the department’s web site, and learned that the department’s drill team had a Confederate soldier as its mascot.

Fire Chief Chris Heinssen said the mascot has been changed and the photos of the confederate flags represent an “unfortunate part of the department’s history.”

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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