Metro Weekly

Austin police officer suspended for 10 days after calling protester “gay”

Officer was previously suspended for texting an "inappropriate and disrespectful" meme to a co-worker

Austin Police Department headquarters – Photo: WhisperToMe, via Wikimedia

A police officer in Austin, Texas, has been suspended for 10 days for using a stereotype to describe a protester as “gay” back in May, according to a disciplinary memo from Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley.

Officer Ryan Seweryn was suspended beginning on Nov. 26 and will return to work after Dec. 5 after an internal investigation found that he referred to a protester as “that gay dude with the short shorts in the black shirt,” when describing the person to fellow officers.

The chief’s memo said the exchange was recorded on Seweryn’s body camera, and the officer didn’t deny using the term, saying “if there was a male in feminine clothing I would describe that individual as gay…in order for my fellow officers to identify the individual.”

Seweryn allegedly told internal affairs investigators that he doesn’t assume a person’s sexual orientation based on how they dress, but said he described the protester that way because the person’s clothing “was consistent with the clothing styles he believed people wore at Gay Pride parades,” according to the memo, which was obtained by Austin-based NBC affiliate KXAN.

See also: Arkansas police chief resigns after allegedly writing Parler posts attacking “Marxist Democrats” and trans people

Seweryn insisted that he wasn’t assuming the person’s sexual orientation by the way they dressed, but that his words were merely a description of the protester’s clothing.

He also said he did not believe he had violated Austin Police Department protocol. But he admitted that he has never referred to a “straight dude” when describing a suspect, and admitted that he wouldn’t be comfortable using “gay” to describe someone when speaking over police radio.

The memo concluded that Seweryn had violated the department’s rules on “purpose and scope” and “impartial attitude and courtesy,” which fall under the department’s “responsibility to community” policy. 

Seweryn was previously suspended for 10 days in September for texting an “inappropriate and disrespectful” meme to a colleague back in March.

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