TRACY, Calif. (KTXL) — A Tracy police employee claims he was wrongly relieved of his duties after commenting on a Facebook thread where threats were made about social justice activist Shaun King.
Stockton-based criminal defense attorney Allen Sawyer is representing Billy Dishman, a part-time professional standards investigator with the Tracy Police Department who was placed on leave without pay.
“It was absolutely horrible, some of the comments that are on there,” Sawyer told FOX40. “Mr. King has every right to be upset and to demand that there’s an investigation.”
But Sawyer claims Dishman’s single comment that read, “Let’s get it going….I’m in,” was taken out of context in an article written by King.
“The full thread was never shown,” Sawyer said.
He said Dishman was replying to another user’s comment about putting together a volunteer team of retired officers to back up police during riots.
“Mr. Dishman responded to that and says ‘sign me up,’” Sawyer said. “He didn’t even know who Shaun King was. There was a lot of very inappropriate comments above in the thread but they had nothing to do with Mr. Dishman.”
The Facebook group and the original post have since been deleted.
“He is a family man and he disavows anything related to the comments that were made that were violent,” Sawyer said. “He thinks it’s not only inappropriate, it’s very possibly could be illegal.”
Other comments on the post have been linked to retired police officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and Long Beach police.
Several FBI offices are investigating. FOX40 asked the FBI for an update and they said, “No comment at this time.”
“There’s no doubt that he wishes he didn’t comment on it,” Sawyer said. “But the point is, is that he, his comment was then taken and attached to other comments that were not connected to each other and it made it sound like he was responding to a violent comment when in reality, that was not true.”
According to Sawyer, Dishman has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience between his time in Tracy and with San Jose police, where he retired as a sergeant.
He said the incident has jeopardized Dishman’s livelihood and has uprooted his life.
“He’s more concerned about his neighbors, what they think of him, you know,” Sawyer said. “He’s had death threats at his house. He’s had to move from his house.”
Now, Sawyer said he is fighting to restore Dishman’s reputation.
“You know, he’d like his life back,” he said. “It’s difficult to unring a bell but that’s what he’s trying to do.”
Sawyer claims Dishman was treated unfairly by Tracy police, which released the following statement Monday:
Chief Millington has provided our part time civilian employee due process in the form of an outside investigation. Tracy PD also intends to respect our employee’s privacy while the investigation is being conducted. At this time, we do not have any further comments as this is an open an on-going investigation.Sgt. Miguel Contreras, Tracy Police Chief of Staff, Public Information Officer