A U.S. Army veteran says he was visited by a California Highway Patrol threat assessment investigator after he tweeted that a CHP officer caught on video pummeling a homeless woman in Mid-City "deserves to be executed."
The vet, Andrew Mahoney, says he lives at the Veterans Affairs compound in West Los Angeles because he's being treated there for alcoholism.
The 43-year-old said he was exercising his freedom of speech and described the CHP's questioning as "overreach." Here's the tweet in question:
Hello California Highway Patrol? @CHP_HQ That video shows an officer who deserves to be executed. Not a need for more training. Only justice— Bungee Drunk (@NauseaTingly) July 15, 2014
Mahoney told us he was visited by a CHP investigator shortly after last week's tweet. In fact, he said, "We had 50 people at the V.A. facility saying, 'Police are looking for you.'"
The V.A. police helped the state cop track him down, Mahoney said. But the CHP official didn't get very far, the 43-year-old said: As soon as he asked the first question (something like, Do you know why I'm visiting you today?), Mahony said he would rather respond in the presence of a lawyer.
And that was the end of it. "He said, 'We're done,'" Mahoney told us.
"I'm not going to assassinate anyone," he told us. "The chilling effect on the first amendment is what this is about."
The veteran, who received commendation and achievement medals during his 4-year tour of duty, was honorably discharged in 2000.
I just find it ironic that somebody willing to risk his life while sworn to protect a country based on principles such as the First Amendment should have his same rights toyed around with by law enforcement under any circumstances.
Particularly when the CHP is backed into a corner and seems to be lashing out by any means of deflecting criticism and scrutiny and using such workarounds to circumvent due process mainly because they're caught red-handed in such disgraceful maltreatment of a defenseless, vulnerable homeless African-American woman. It lays the Highway Patrol's ugly tactics bare.
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We reached out to the CHP for its response but we were told no one was available to speak to us. The department has yet to name the officer involved in the July 1 use of force.
[Added at 4:08 p.m.]: A CHP spokeswoman got back to us. She had this to say:
... [The] CHP has received calls from citizens threatening to harm the officer involved in the use of force incident on the I-10. Such threats would normally be investigated.