Midshipman disciplined for disparaging tweets sues Naval Academy
A midshipman who was disciplined for a series of disparaging tweets — including that Breonna Taylor “received justice” when she was fatally shot by police in Kentucky — is suing the Naval Academy, according to reports.
Midshipman 1st Class Chase Standage, 21, of California, claimed in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the looming expulsion he faces from the Naval Academy violates his constitutional rights of free speech, as well as to a fair and impartial hearing, the Capital Gazette reported.
Officials in Annapolis launched an investigation this summer after Standage tweeted several widely denounced remarks, including that Taylor “received justice” when she was killed by police in Louisville during a botched drug raid in March.
Standage, the son of Los Angeles police officers, also blasted calls to defund police and said a drone strike could take out radical left-wing Antifa protesters. The tweets were posted in June, the lawsuit states.
“Go ahead, cut funds to the police,” Standage tweeted while replying to a post that suggested some funding should instead go toward community policing. “Community policing by building relations is expensive and timely, anyways. Bullets, on the other hand, are cheap and in ready supply.”
Standage also said protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s police-custody death in late May would end sooner if police officers shot unarmed protesters, the Gazette reported in June.
Standage’s lawsuit claims he wrote the tweets as an overreaction due to his parents’ job and because of the riots that took over Los Angeles in June — which put their lives at risk.
Standage, who wants to become a Navy fighter pilot, also only referred to left-wing Antifa protesters as “terrorists” after President Trump did so, his lawsuit claims.
An investigation into Standage’s tweets culminated last week with him receiving “appropriate administrative action.”
An academy spokesperson declined to elaborate on the exact punitive action. He had faced dismissal from the academy, the Gazette previously reported.
“We are aware of the filing; it would be inappropriate for the Naval Academy to comment on pending litigation,” spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas wrote the newspaper in an email.
Standage, whose Twitter account was deleted in June, claims in his lawsuit that Naval Academy officials plan to recommend to the secretary of the Navy that he be separated from the service academy for violating policies prohibiting political activities and for “conduct unbecoming a midshipman.”
His attorneys, meanwhile, claim the Naval Academy’s findings violate Standage’s First Amendment protection of free speech, as well the Fifth Amendment ensuring his right to a fair and impartial hearing, the lawsuit claims.
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