A veteran Erie Bureau of Police officer defended his profession, criticized journalists and broadly stated that Black people seeking social justice “cannot take care of their own or anyone else without playing the race card” in a long email sent to several Erie Times-News reporters and copied to Mayor Joe Schember.
Sgt. Jeff Annunziata, the chief traffic investigator for Erie police and a 34-year veteran of the police bureau, sent the email from his city account on Monday night to Schember and four Erie Times-News reporters.
The email from Annunziata, 62, also states that citizens “do not understand compliance;” asserts that most police officers try to avoid confrontation; suggests without evidence that the Clinton Foundation and billionaire George Soros are funding Black Lives Matter and antifa, and makes a point of mentioning that Erie officer Richard Burchick was shot and killed in 1991 by a Black man.
“Why are the facts ignored about the killing in this country and how small, the minute numbers of Police officers that kill a black man in the line of duty?” Annunziata wrote.
“There is not one police officer that I have met around the country that seeks out controversy instead of an agreement NOT ONE,” Annunziata wrote.
Schember initially told the Erie Times-News on Wednesday he had read Annunziata’s email and responded to it in writing, and that he also had talked with Annunziata briefly about what the officer wrote.
Police Chief Dan Spizarny is also aware of the email, Schember said.
But later, on Wednesday afternoon, Schember declined further comment about Annunziata’s email and would not voluntarily forward a copy of his written response to Annunziata’s email to the Times-News after the newspaper asked for it.
The Times-News has since requested a copy of Schember’s email via the state’s Right-to-Know Law.
Contacted by telephone Wednesday, Annunziata said he was ordered by Schember’s administration not to comment further.
Annunziata sent his email shortly before 7 p.m. Monday. It is unclear whether Annunziata was working when he wrote or sent the email.
A few hours earlier, about 3:30 p.m. Monday, Schember announced that another city police officer, who was caught on video kicking a seated protester during unrest downtown in late May, would be suspended without pay for three days and would be assigned to desk duty until he completes sensitivity training.
The entire department will also undergo sensitivity training, Schember announced.
Schember’s administration has refused to identify the officer who kicked 21-year-old protester Hannah Silbaugh on the advice of City Solicitor Ed Betza, which has angered some members of the public.
In his email, Annunziata referred to George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Annunziata also generally mentioned protesters, as Floyd’s death has sparked demonstrations throughout the world, including in Erie.
“Why is the fact that the officer(s) in Minnesota are paying for their lack of judgment,” Annunziata wrote. “What gives the protesters the right to cause damage and disobey public order?”
Annunziata also questioned in his email why reporters “do not report on the officers in this city that were injured trying to protect what people have built. You as reporters have a responsibility to report the whole story not the part you want to report for your own satisfaction and that of unnecessary movements.”
The Erie Times-News reported on June 10 that one of the 14 city police officers injured during the late May rioting downtown suffered a serious knee injury and will be off work for an extended period of time.
The newspaper has also reported on the injuries suffered by other officers during the downtown disturbance.
Annunziata, in his email, asked “where is the protest” for police officers murdered nationwide and mentioned the Confederate flag, saying that prohibiting someone from displaying it is a violation of the First Amendment.
Addressing Schember, Annunziata wrote: “Mr. mayor how many officers need to be hurt before you speak out.” He also wrote “The ‘deep state’ media, reporters are responsible and the ‘radical’ liberal politicians are right behind them.”
He wrote of those groups: “they show the problem but do not offer solutions, fair solutions we can all agree on.”
Annunziata ended his email by writing that officers across the country “always look for a peaceful resolution, but when we are confronted with dissension, weapons of all kinds and argument we have a job to do and hopefully with peaceful results. As we know this does not happen when a law is broken and the suspect or citizen does not understand what they have done, was done wrong and against the law.”
Erie City Councilman Michael Keys called Annunziata’s email “disappointing” and said he believes Schember needs to publicly address it.
Keys, who is Black, reviewed the email at the request of the Times-News.
“What strikes me is that there’s absolutely no empathy in that email for the people who have been disproportionately affected by police brutality and systemic structural racism,” Keys said.
“I am also concerned that a member of our police force expresses these kinds of views about some members of the public that he is supposed to protect and serve,” Keys said.
Contact Kevin Flowers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ETNflowers.
Text of the email
Erie Police Sgt. Jeff Annunziata, 62, the city’s chief traffic investigator, sent the following email on Monday evening to four Erie Times-News reporters and Erie Mayor Joe Schember:
Why are the facts ignored about the killing in this country and how small, the mInute numbers of Police officers that kill a black man in the line of duty? Why is the fact that the officer in Minnesota are paying for their lack of judgement ? What gives the protesters the right to cause damage and disobey public order? Minorities (BLACK PEOPLE) talk of SOCIAL JUSTICE when they cannot take care of their own or anyone else with out playing the race card, why? I see this all the time and many well know people of color agree with this, but are subsequently called Uncle Tom. All I want to see is equality also, but watch the reverse that has taken hold here in this country with the destruction of this countries history in the SOUTH AND OTHER STATES. Right or wrong it is the History of this Country. Why do you reporters not comment on the Destruction and Vandalism of National monuments WHY? I am glad I am a police officer in this city because we have adapted to change and how to treat people in the community. Those other communities need to adapt but it is not going to happen with rioting, looting and destruction of your neighborhoods and cities. Why is it that reporters do not report on the officers in this city that were injured trying to protect what people have built. You as reporters have a responsibility to report the whole story not the part you want to report for your own satisfaction and that of unnecessary movements. BLM is know to have attached itself with ANTIFA WHY? why is the Dem party with the likes of backers like George Soros & the Clinton foundation who are funding BLM & Antifa why? To say BLM and not all lives matter is racist, to stop a confederate flag from waving is a violation of the first amendment, why is this ignored. What about police lives that are killed in this country, why was there no protest when my friend and brother officer Richard Burchick was murdered by a black man? Why is the murder of retired ST. Louis Police Captain (Black Cop David Dorn) murdered and there was no protest for him, he was killed by a young black male ? 48 officers were killed in felonious acts in 2019, where is the protest for their deaths? Why is it important to kneel during the anthem when if they did this immediately after, I believe it would be widely accepted and participated in even by the fans. The protest is right and just, the timing has been dictated by the media. Mr. mayor how many officers need to be hurt before you speak out about the what is going on, this issue affects us all. The ‘deep state’ media, reporters are responsible and the ‘radical’ liberal politicians are right behind them. Their argument serves no purpose but perpetuates the problem because they show the problem but do not offer solutions, fair solutions we can all agree on. Remember we as police interact when we are called upon for help, and sometimes things get out of hand because
People do not understand compliance. There is not one police officer that I have met around the country that seeks out controversy instead of an agreement NOT ONE. I have been around the country talking to police officer in my 34+ years career, we always look for a peaceful resolution, but when we are confronted with dissension, weapons of all kinds and argument we have a job to do and hopefully with peaceful results. As we know this does not happen when a law is broken and the suspect or citizen does not understand what they have done, was done wrong and against the law.
Jeff Annunziata citizen, taxpayer and police officer.
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