SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Three members of the Savannah Police Department have been placed on administrative leave as officials investigate a report of officers mocking a recent in-custody death.
This comes weeks after the death of William Harvey’s death. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the 60-year-old died of suicide by hanging at Savannah Police headquarters.
In a group text message named “Eastside Night Shift,” one officer shared a GIF of what appears to be a Black man hanging himself.
The officer asks if it’s too early to send the image to one of the officers who apparently found Harvey unresponsive in a police interrogation room.
WSAV has learned the mother of the officer who found Harvey filed a formal complaint with SPD about the group message. Rev. Leonard Small says he was contacted by the mother to speak on her family’s behalf.
“We don’t know whether it was a joke, a warning, or a threat, but whatever it was, we want everybody involved to be fired,” Small said.
Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter says a sergeant, corporal and officer were placed on administrative leave as SPD’s internal investigation continues.
“We take things like that very serious. There is no cover-up. There is nobody trying to not investigate this,” Minter said. “The day that I was made aware of it is the same day that we began our internal investigation.”
Attorney Mawuli Davis, whose firm is representing Harvey’s family, says the GIF is an indication of a larger problem within the Savannah Police Department. He wants the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into it.
“There is potentially a culture of utter disregard for Black life, and fundamental racism, that they would think that something like that could be turned into a police joke,” Davis said.