D.C. Officer Cleared in First Lady Threat, But Faces Suspension Over Social Media Remarks

Tuesday, Jul 9, 2013  |  Updated 5:18 PM EDT
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D.C. Officer Cleared in First Lady Threat

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First lady Michelle Obama speaks at an awards ceremony in the East Room at the White House, May 8, 2013.

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A D.C. police officer accused of making a threat against First Lady Michelle Obama last year has been cleared of charges in that case, but was found guilty of making derogatory remarks on social media, The Washington Post reported.

Christopher Picciano was accused of making "an alleged threat" against the first lady last summer after a supervisor allegedly overheard him saying he would shoot the first lady, the Washington Post reported.

He also allegedly pulled out his phone to display an image of the gun he would use.

Both the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Secret Service declined to file charges against Picciano over the alleged remark, although Metropolitian Police Chief Cathy Lanier expressed outrage over the incident.

While it was possible he was making a joke, she said last summer, "...there is absolutely no place for jokes of a nature that could be perceived as threatening to the president, the first lady or anybody else."

However, in September Lanier said the case would be considered an administrative matter.

During that investigation, though, detectives found "troubling though unrelated" postings on the officer’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, the Post reported:

"Those included a communist emblem -- a hammer and sickle -- superimposed over a campaign poster of President Obama and Picciano’s self-described job description as 'zoo keeper of the MPD.' Angry with the D.C. Council over a vote to curtail pension benefits, Picciano wrote on Facebook about taking a rifle to a tall building."

Members of a departmental review board ordered Picciano to be suspended without pay for 40 days for conduct unbecoming an officer, the Post reported. His attorney said Picciano is considering an appeal.

Picciano had been working in the Special Operations division, handling presidential and dignitary motorcades, when the incident occurred. He has since been reassigned.

D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump declined to comment, saying the ruling is a personnel matter, the Post reported.

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