A top gang prosecutor in San Bernardino County has been put on administrative leave while the District Attorney's Office investigates discriminatory comments he made on social media, District Attorney Mike Ramos said Monday.
San Bernardino County Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem is accused of making profanity-laced comments about Rep. Maxine Waters, former first lady Michelle Obama and Mexican immigrants.
In one post, Selyem wrote of Waters, saying "being a loud-mouthed (expletive) in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this (expletive) by now."
In another he speaks of a suspect in an officer-involved shooting, saying "That s-bag got what he deserved" and "had he stopped being a complete (expletive) and listened to the police, he wouldn't have gotten shot."
It's unclear if that's from a current case he was investigating.
Both Selyem's Facebook and Instagram accounts have been deleted.
Ramos said his office received a complaint about the comments on June 28 and immediately launched a personnel investigation.
"The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office does not condone hate, discrimination or incitement of violence," Ramos said during a news conference. "Our community and our entire criminal justice system depends on having a fair, ethical and unbiased prosecutor."
Selyem, who has been a lead attorney in the Central Hardcore Gang Unit for 12 years, faces disciplinary action that could include termination, Ramos said.
Ramos said he was offended by the comments and was especially concerned with comments that involved officer-involved shootings, cases that prosecutors handle on a daily basis.
Selyem has not responded to multiple calls seeking comment. He hung up on a reporter from the Southern California News Group when reached by phone on Friday and did not return calls and emails seeking comment, according to the newspaper. The newspaper posted the social media posts before they were taken down.
Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School criminal law professor, said what's at stake is the credibility of the entire criminal justice system.
"I don't say district attorneys don't have First Amendment rights, but they also have responsibilities and before they say something, they have to realize how it reflects on them and their office," she said. "Your immature and improper actions can affect all of that."
Some in the community were outraged, with multiple groups threatening legal action if the DA doesn't remove Selyem for good.
"We cannot have this type of mentality in our DA's office when we're dealing with lives and lives of people," said Terrance Stone, a Young Visionaries activist.
Added Najee Ali, of Operation Hope: "This man has proven by his words he does not have the integrity or the character or the morals that that job needs working as a DA."