Chicopee Police Go After Resident for ‘Put Wings on Pigs’ Facebook Status
A Chicopee man is being summonsed to court for threatening to commit a crime after he posted a Facebook status similar to one shared on Instagram by the gunman who shot and killed two police officers in New York City over the weekend.
According to Chicopee Police officials, Charles Dirosa allegedly wrote, “Put Wings on Pigs” on his personal Facebook page, a phrase that mirrors one used by shooter Ismaaiyl Brinsley before he “assassinated” officers sitting in a car in Brooklyn, New York on December 20.
Chicopee police said they came across Dirosa’s “disturbing” Facebook update after residents and followers of their own Facebook account altered them.
“This post was quite simply, ‘Put Wings on Pigs,’” police said. “After the events of the past few days, the [police department] took this threat very seriously.”
Officials said Dirosa was investigated by the department’s detective bureau, and his information was handed out to the Massachusetts State Police for “officer safety” reasons.
A spokesman from the State Police said their Commonwealth Fusion Center, which is used to gather and distribute information to inform law enforcement agencies about specific threats, crimes, or patterns of criminal activity, was in communication with Chicopee police about Dirosa’s Facebook statement, but that Chicopee officers are handling the incident.
Subsequent to their investigation, Chicopee police said Dirosa could face charges for threatening to commit a crime.
Under Massachusetts state law, a person found guilty of threatening to commit a crime, even if the actual crime was never carried out, can face jail time and fines. Dirosa will be summonsed for a show-cause hearing, before the court will decide whether or not to proceed to trial and press charges.
In order to prove the defendant guilty of this offense, the state must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt: that there was intent to injure, that the threat was against a particular person, that if the threat was carried out it would be considered a crime, and that the defendant could have reasonably followed through with the threat, according to the state’s website.
Followers on the Chicopee Police Department’s Facebook page shared the post nearly 700 times, after it was posted on Monday. The status about Dirosa, which included two photos of the alleged suspect, elicited hundreds of responses.
Some felt the police were out of line to post Dirosa’s photo, since he hadn’t been arrested.
“You have a very low standard of what ‘threat to commit a crime’ is. You also have a very low standard of reading comprehension. He didn’t say ‘I’m going to,’ and he said nothing about killing cops,” one person said.
Others condemned Dirosa for his choice of words during a time when police are on alert following the recent killings in New York, and perceived tensions between police and the public have risen.
Some people who responded remained neutral, and understood the need to look into the status update. “If they didn’t investigate and he did kill them then everyone would be asking why he wasn’t investigated,” one person wrote.