A white Newark, New Jersey, police lieutenant fired over a Facebook exchange that referred to the city's black mayor as a gorilla is appealing the decision and wants to return to the force.
NJ.com reports Anthony Caruso was terminated Friday following accusations he violated the police department's social media policy barring "disparaging" remarks.
An investigation was launched after a citizen sent police a screenshot of the Facebook post in July.
A retired officer posted to Caruso's feed a picture of a gorilla captioned "... How's your mayor?" The 23-year police veteran replied with the word "exactly" and four exclamation marks.
Caruso's attorney says his remarks had nothing to do with race. The attorney says Caruso will suffer financially if he's not reinstated as he's nearing his 25-year career milestone.
"As we continue to improve our community relations and to develop police legitimacy, we will not condone the type of behavior that Lt. Caruso displayed while referring to a member of our city administration as a gorilla," Police Director Eugene Venable said in a statement last week.
Sgt. Ron Glover said the department doesn't actively monitor employees' social media activity, but a policy is in place governing online conduct. It prohibits employees from making any comment that defames the department or is derogatory toward the city or any of its employees. Venable said Caruso "willfully" violated that policy.