The Lee County Sheriff's Office wasted little time firing an employee who admitted to using racist language on-line. According to an internal affairs report, Deputy Jean Lopez was fired in April for posting racial comments on his Facebook page.
The report said Lopez posted a video in March of a black man talking about his company and his competitors using explicit language and street terms. The report said Lopez wrote, "Can someone please tell me what the [expletive] this monkey is saying?"
The report also stated Lopez wrote, "Get a real life [expletive] monkey."
The video was originally posted on Facebook by Street FX Motorsport & Graphics. According to the report, Lopez told investigators he and his friends used the term to describe "something stupid." Lopez said he would never use the term in uniform.
Officials with the sheriff's office said the post violated their policy.
"It's not acceptable and that's why he's out of a job," Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said.
It's not Lopez's first time being investigated at work. An internal affairs report shows Lopez and another officer were placed on administrative leave for the officer-involved shooting of Joshua Young in March 2014. Investigators said Young tried to run the deputies over. The actions of both deputies were found to be within the policies and procedures of the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
Lopez was also accused of having sex with a prostitute in 2013, but a report said an investigation found those claims to be unfounded.
In 2009, Lopez was reprimanded for getting involved in a domestic dispute between his two neighbors while he was off-duty.
In 2008, a report said investigators concluded Lopez improperly handled a suspect's money. Then again in 2008, Lopez was arrested but not charged for threatening to kill his wife. The sheriff's office determined Lopez violated policies and procedures by losing his temper and threatening his wife.
Despite his past, Lopez's neighbor said he does not believe he should have been fired for the post.
"He has an opinion like anybody else," neighbor Dennis Sweany said. "Just because he is a deputy doesn't mean he can't say his opinion I don't think."
Sheriff Scott said Lopez's post questioned his ability to enforce laws without being prejudice.
"It was so far contrary for what we stand for and what I expect for a deputy sheriff that we said bye-bye," Sheriff Scott said.
Lopez sat down with us to give his side of the story. He admits he used the phrase "monkey" to describe an African American man on Facebook. But Lopez says it wasn't racist.
Lopez tells us it's just something he calls people saying "stupid or funny stuff." He admits he knows it has racial connotations, but doesn't think the punishment is fair.
The Lee County Sheriff's Office says because Lopez listed them on Facebook as his employer, he violated their policy on derogatory comments.