A former Metro Nashville Police officer, fired last year for an inflammatory Facebook post about a Minnesota police shooting, is suing the city for violating his First Amendment rights.
On July 7, 2016, Anthony Venable, a Hermitage Precinct officer and former officer of the year, posted in Facebook comment thread about Philando Castile, who was shot during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. the day before.
“Yeah. I would have done 5,” Venable wrote. Castile was shot four times.
In the same comment thread, Venable declared he was “trained by the best,” “…you don’t shoot just one. If I use my weapon, I shoot to kill and end threat”; and “He (Castile) had a gun AND weed in the car. These [sic] officer will be fine.”
“It can be agreed that you were trained by the best. If the staff of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Training Academy is not the best in the nation, it is among the best,” Police Chief Steve Anderson wrote. “In that this training also includes responsible, acceptable and unacceptable use of social media, it is clear that you intentionally elected to ignore the training and directives you have received by issuing publications to the World Wide Web in contradiction to the training you received. … If you were trained to shoot to kill, you did not receive this training from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. …
During the investigation, Venable argued he was speaking as a private citizen and nothing on his social media tied his comments to the department. His federal lawsuit alleges he was deprived of his right to free speech in violation of both the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. He is seeking $2 million in damages.