N. Charleston settles suit by ex-cop photoed in Rebel Flag boxers after Emanuel shootings
The City of North Charleston has settled a lawsuit filed by a former North Charleston Police officer who was fired after posting to social media a photo of himself in Confederate Flag boxers days after the deadly mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015.
City spokesman Ryan Johnson confirms the city settled a lawsuit brought in 2016 by former NCPD officer Shannon Dildine. Johnson says the city settled with Dildine for $55,000, a sum paid for by the city's insurance.
Dildine was fired in September 2015 after the photo of him in the Confederate Flag boxers began being shared on social media around the Lowcountry. The photo was originally posted only five days after the Emanuel AME shootings, which left nine people dead.
Police Chief Eddie Driggers said at the time he fired Dildine because the photo undermined the officer's "ability to improve trust and instill confidence when working with our citizens."
Dildine said in his June 2016 lawsuit filing his firing was a violation of his 1st Amendment rights, because he posted the photo on his private Facebook page under an alias, so it in no way reflected on the North Charleston Police Department.
Dildine also claimed in the lawsuit he was being discriminated against as white man because Deputy NCPD Chief Reggie Burgess, who is black, was earlier photographed with members of Black Lives Matter Charleston, yet was not reprimanded to Dildine's knowledge.
"When other races engage in similar conduct [as posting a politically driven picture on private social media pages], minorities are treated better than Caucasians," the lawsuit read.
In the lawsuit, Dildine claimed he was on vacation at the time of the Emanuel AME shootings and the debate over the flag that followed, so he didn't know there were pictures of gunman Dylann Roof with the Confederate Flag.
Dildine claims he posted the picture to diffuse a debate two Facebook friends were having over the Confederate Flag.
"Being born and raised in the Southern United States, (Dildine) did not believe the Confederate Flag was a symbol of hate. Instead, he believed it symbolized opposition to bigger or intrusive government," the lawsuit read.