A St. Louis county police officer is under fire for boasting about spending money he earned while working during recent demonstrations in Ferguson — protests that marked the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.
According to the Guardian, St. Louis County patrolman Todd J. Bakula recently posted images to his personal Facebook page from his vacation to Defiance, Missouri. The pictures included a caption gloating about using money he accrued while responding to large protests earlier this month commemorating the death of African American teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white police officer in August 2014.
“I decided to spend my annual Michael Brown bonus on a nice relaxing bicycle ride trip to Defiance,” Bakula reportedly wrote using the pseudonym TJ Thekoola. “Eating dinner now and staying at a bed and breakfast tonight.”
The post appears to be a reference to the often sizable overtime pay usually given to police officers who assist in crowd control or other duties during the protests. Of the $4 million the county spent responding to last year’s demonstrations in Ferguson, roughly $2.5 million was used to compensate police for overtime work.
This year’s protests led officials to declare a state of emergency in St. Louis county on Monday, following an incident in which a young African American man was shot by police. The protests also included the presence of the Oath Keepers, a band of heavily armed, right-wing militiamen. Their members include Dan Page, a St. Louis police officer who was relieved of his duties last year after a video was uncovered of him delivering a racist and sexist rant at an Oath Keeper meeting.
“We understand the post is controversial,” Shawn McGuire, media relations officer at St Louis County police, told the Guardian. “The St Louis County police department takes these allegations very serious in every case. The remarks on the Facebook page will be investigated by our department.”
A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that St. Louis police shot and killed an African American man on Monday. In fact, he remains in critical condition.