New Jersey detention officer suspended over hateful comments about murdered boy

A New Jersey detention officer who allegedly wrote on Facebook that a 5-year-old boy fatally shot in North Carolina “should’ve ducked” has been suspended, county officials said.

Rome Smith, who works at the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Center, wrote on Facebook Friday about the Aug. 9 shooting that killed Cannon Hinnant as the boy rode his bike outside his family’s home, a screenshot shows below.

“He should’ve ducked,” Smith, 49, allegedly wrote. “Y’all always trying to sneak diss and discredit a black person being killed innocently by police. Blame cannon’s parents for not watching him!!! F Y’ALL.”

Detention officer

Smith’s Facebook account appeared to be no longer available early Wednesday. County officials did not identify him by name, but confirmed the suspension and denounced the online comments as “shockingly insensitive and racist in tone,” reports. The news organization tried to contact him for comment on Tuesday, but was unsuccessful.

Darius Nathaniel Sessoms has been charged with murdering 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant.

Darius Nathaniel Sessoms has been charged with murdering 5-year-old Cannon Hinnant. (Hinnant family, Wilson Police Department)

“We will not tolerate county employees using social media to broadcast hateful messages,” Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella said. “This is not who we are and we intend to pursue the strongest action available to us.”

Smith’s post was skewered as racist and “very disturbing” by those who spotted it online, including some who suggested that others “let his workplace know” about his thoughts on the fatal shooting of Cannon.

“He is obviously racist against caucasians,” one post read. “He laughed at a 5 year old boy being executed.”

The boy’s father, Austin Hinnant, told the Wilson Times Cannon was playing outside in Wilson with his sisters when he was shot. A next-door neighbor, Darius Nathaniel Sessoms, 25, has been charged with first-degree murder in the boy’s death.

Witnesses told WRAL Cannon was riding his bike when a neighbor walked up to him and shot him in the head. Police investigators did not release any details about a possible motive last week, the station reports.

Hinnant, meanwhile, has dismissed claims that race played a factor in the shooting.

Hinnant told reporters that he had Sessoms over to his house the night before for dinner. They drank a beer together on the porch, Law Officer reported.

“There wasn’t anything between me and him, any bad blood whatsoever, for him to have a reason to do this,” Hinnant said.

Sessoms’ parents said they believe their son had taken drugs and was hallucinating during the shooting.


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