Chronicle: Former Harris County deputy’s firing upheld after posts on white privilege Facebook page

Houston Chronicle report:

A Harris County board on Tuesday upheld the firing of a sheriff’s office deputy who shared two racist posts on a private Facebook group called the “White Privilege Club.”

The sheriff’s office terminated former Det. James Thomas’ employment this year after investigating his behavior on social media, stemming from a letter from an investigative reporting group detailing the accusations, Assistant County Attorney Graylon Wells said.

After two investigations into the matter, the Sheriff Ed Gonzalez denied a first appeal for reinstatement, and the Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission on Tuesday ruled in line with the agency’s head.

“Nobody forced James Thomas to make those posts,” Wells said at the hearing. “James Thomas made decisions, he made actions and it’s a learning lesson for him. But that shouldn’t be forced on the sheriff. He can learn his lesson and go somewhere else.”

During the appeals hearing, Thomas and his attorney pointed to the perils and ever-changing nature of social media while denying that the posts were outwardly racist. Wells countered that Thomas shouldn’t be reinstated because his behavior online broke department policies of professionalism.

More at