Rome Smith, who works for Cumberland County, was commenting on Facebook about Hinnant’s Aug. 9 execution-style shooting reportedly carried out by 25-year-old neighbor Darius N. Sessoms, the outlet said.
Smith, who is black, wrote that Cannon “should’ve ducked” and put responsibility for the killing on the boy’s parents, NJ.com said, citing screenshots of Smith’s post.
“Y’all always trying to sneak diss and discredit a black person being killed innocently by police,” Smith also allegedly wrote, according to
NBC News. “Blame Cannon’s parents for not watching him!!! F Y’ALL.”
What’s the background?
Cannon was riding his bicycle in front of his father’s house when Sessoms, who is black, allegedly shot the 5-year-old. Cannon’s 7-year-old and 8-year-old sisters reportedly witnessed the shooting. First responders transported Cannon to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sessoms drove off but was
arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service Carolinas Regional Task Force and he was charged with first-degree murder. Sessoms has a lengthy criminal record that includes multiple felony drug charges, multiple felony probation violations, and charges for possessing stolen firearms.
took a while for many national news outlets to report on Cannon’s killing, which sparked the hashtag #SayHisName on Twitter.
What did officials have to say about Smith’s post?
A spokeswoman for the county, Jody Hirata, confirmed to NBC News that Smith is a county employee and was suspended over the post.
Cumberland County officials — in a statement that did not identify Smith by name — condemned the post as “shockingly insensitive and racist in tone,” NJ.com reported.
“We will not tolerate County employees using social media to broadcast hateful messages,” County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella told the outlet. “This is not who we are, and we intend to pursue the strongest action available to us.”
Records indicate Smith has been enrolled in the state pension system for 26 years and his salary is $56,678, NJ.com said.
Smith’s Facebook account and other social media outlets appear to have been disabled, the outlet noted, adding that attempts to reach him for comment Tuesday morning were unsuccessful.
Cannon’s parents denied that his killing had anything to do with race. Sessoms’ parents said they believe their son was on drugs and having hallucinations, the Associated Press
The night before the killing, Cannon’s father, Austin Hinnant, said he and Sessoms shared a beer on the front porch.
“I have no idea why he would kill my son in front of his two sisters and his cousin,” Hinnant told
WRAL-TV. “There was never anything between me and him, any bad blood whatsoever for him to have a reason to do this.”