FBI investigating threats made to Valdosta, VPD

FBI investigating threats made to Valdosta, VPD

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Threats to harm police and other Valdosta city leaders surfaced after a video showing a use-of-force incident went viral on social media.

City leaders said several threats have come in since last week. They were turned over to the FBI, who said they can’t comment because it’s an ongoing investigation.

This comes after a video showing Antonio Smith being grabbed during an arrest attempt back in February, began to circulate online.

“We take stuff like this very seriously, these types of threats. We want to ensure all communities, law enforcement and individuals that live in those communities are safe and that they feel safe. So when we do get information like this, we take it very seriously and our detectives will investigate them and go out to these homes and talk to these individuals,” said Christine Jeltema, public information officer for Connecticut State Police.

A Connecticut man charged with threatening to shoot police on social media said Thursday that the posting was a satirical response to a video showing what he called police misconduct in Georgia.
A Connecticut man charged with threatening to shoot police on social media said Thursday that the posting was a satirical response to a video showing what he called police misconduct in Georgia. (Source: WALB)

Last Wednesday, a Connecticut man was arrested after state police said he threatened to shoot police. They said Alexander Hassinger, 24, made the post on Twitter. The arrest report says the post read, “imma kill a cop today and when they ask me why I did it, imma tell them he was acting nervous and looked at me wrong.”

“We received almost like a tip from a Virginia resident saying that this individual posted on twitter and making a comment about wanting to kill cops. We took that information and sent it over to our western district major crime, where we learned where the individual was from,” said Jeltema.

Police said he admitted to making the post. He was charged with first-degree harassment and second-degree breach of peace.

He was released on a $10,000 bail.

Prior to the tweet, he'd reposted the video of the Valdosta Police Department incident.

That video shows when police were called to the Walgreens on North Ashley Street. Customers reported a man harassing them and screaming. When officers arrived the second time, they spotted a man fitting the description callers gave. They learned he had felony warrants out of Cook County. In the meantime, a customer told another officer checking the west side of the building, a man was harassing her and asking for money. She told the officer where the man was.

The City of Valdosta was notified about a lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department and the city regarding an incident that occurred in February.
The City of Valdosta was notified about a lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department and the city regarding an incident that occurred in February. (Source: WALB)

Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan said the officer approaching Smith thought he was the man with felony warrants. But he was the man Walgreens customers complained about.

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