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OKC Man Arrested for Facebook Threat against Police

26-Dec-2014

On December 20, two New York City police officers were gunned down as they sat in their patrol car. Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were "assassinated" and "targeted for their uniforms," according to NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. 

In the hours before their murders, their killer, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, threatened via Instagram to kill police officers in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown during altercations with police:

"I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours...... Let's Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMikeBrown This May Be My Final Post. I'm Putting Pigs In A Blanket"

Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore and then traveled to Brooklyn, where he executed Ramos and Liu. He then went to a nearby subway platform, where he shot and killed himself.

Two days later, a Massachusetts man was arrested after he posted, "Put Wings On Pigs," on his Facebook page. In response to the arrest of 27-year-old Charles DiRosa, the Chicopee Police Department issued a statement saying, "In the eyes of every police officer in America today, 'putting wings on pigs' is a threat."

It is a threat that is taken seriously across the nation, including right here in Oklahoma City. Police arrested Tavon T. Railback, 19, earlier this week after he allegedly made threats against police via Facebook. Railback allegedly posted a picture of himself posing with a pistol, with a caption that read, "Bust some shots at a Cop and watch his body fall ... Bang Bang."

A warrant was issued for Railback's arrest on Tuesday, just three days after the two New York City police officers were killed. He was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail that evening on complaints of Acts of Terrorism, Acts Resulting in Gross Injury, Unauthorized Use of a Computer, and Assault and Battery. He is being held on $500,000 bond.

Police say Railback is a known gang member with a lengthy criminal record. A state court records search shows that the suspect was charged with first degree murder and three counts of shooting with intent to kill in 2012, but those charges were all dismissed. In that case, Railbeck and a co-defendant, Brandon Jackson, were accused of killing 15-year-old Richard Morales in a drive-by shooting.

According to the Oklahoma Antiterrorism Act, "Every act of terrorism is a felony," and is punishable by a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Interestingly, the United States Supreme Court is now considering the question of artistic expression and free speech when it comes to making Facebook threats. In Elonis v. United States, a man convicted after making Facebook threats against his ex-wife argues that he was not truly threatening to harm her, nor did he have the intent of putting her in fear. Rather, he says, he was simple expressing himself and his frustration at his divorce through creating rap lyrics. Although the Court has not yet ruled in that case, legal analysts say that the Justices did not appear likely to protect social media threats.



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