A Chicago police supervisor resigned earlier this month amid an investigation into racist and other incendiary comments he made on a hacked Facebook account.
Police Lt. John Cannon, a former Near North Police District watch commander, resigned on Oct. 15 — nearly a year after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability found him to have a “flagrant disregard” for department policies and recommended he be fired.
According to the COPA report, “Lt. Cannon’s posts disparage the same protected classes he took an oath to protect and serve, including Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, the LGBTQ community, and women.”
“Through his use of social media, Lt. Cannon has demonstrated that he is unable to treat all Chicago citizens fairly and equally,” the statement said.
It was unclear what, if any, action the Chicago Police Department took. When asked if Supt. David Brown agreed with COPA’s recommendation to fire Cannon, police representatives did not respond.
Cannon’s allegations, according to Max Caproni, executive director of the Chicago Police Board, were never referred to the board, which rules on serious police disciplinary cases.
Dan Herbert, Cannon’s attorney, did not respond to questions.
The COPA investigation was prompted by a complaint that also mentioned Officer Robert Bakker’s ties to the far-right Proud Boys, according to the oversight agency. Bakker was not fired after an investigation, sparking a recent firestorm at City Hall.
COPA focused on 19 allegations related to the social media posts in Cannon’s case, 16 of which were sustained. One person portrayed firefighters as homosexuals. Another declared that former President Barack “Obama is Isis,” accompanied by an edited photo of Obama wearing a hijab.
Cannon appeared to respond to body-worn camera footage of the fatal police shooting of Harith Augustus, a well-regarded South Shore barber whose death sparked protests and unrest, in one jarring example cited by COPA from July 2018.
“When brave young warriors faced an urban terrorist, the better trained professional Police Officer won the day,” he wrote. “Excellent work by all of the new warriors. I adore it.”
Cannon was publicly identified in June 2020 as “Samuel Hipster,” the name he used on Facebook, after filing a complaint against the former dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where he studied.
Cannon claimed that emails sent to the school community in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd discriminated against white people and police officers.
He followed up the complaint with a lawsuit alleging that a fellow student sent an email blast on behalf of a lawyers group demanding that Chicago police officers be removed from the school. Cannon claimed the appeal amounted to “discriminatory, harassing hate speech dissemination.”
Cannon also claimed the student “hacked” into his “private Facebook account” and published the contents in order to “slander” him and “discredit his complaints.”
After filing his lawsuit, Cannon spoke to at least two media outlets, claiming that his posts were manipulated to make him appear to be a “bigot, a racist, or some nefarious actor.”
“I believe significant damage has been done to my reputation,” he told ABC-7. “So I believe the law school owes it to me to get me back to where I was before the attacks.”
Despite those claims, Cannon told investigators that he had never noticed anyone else using his account and that he had made the incendiary posts.
COPA noted that those posts appeared to be a direct screenshot from his page, implying that they were “accessible to someone who publicly shared the lieutenant’s posts.”
Cannon later clarified that he “meant that someone accessed his social media without permission,” according to COPA. However, Cannon “did not provide any evidence that someone had improperly accessed his account,” according to the agency.
Cannon did, in fact, clearly identify himself on his Facebook page, even using his full name for the profile link and web address. COPA discovered that he also posted a selfie and a letter congratulating him on making the law school’s dean’s list.
“The liberal police-hating class at this law school probably hates the fact that a rotten police officer kicks a— there,” he wrote in a caption accompanying the letter photo. “You a—holes, just give me my law degree.”
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