Lethbridge police move up date for sanctions against ‘meme-gate’ officers
The date for sanctions to be delivered against two of three Lethbridge Police Service officers who pleaded guilty to misconduct charges for creating and distributing offensive memes has been moved up.
The hearing for Const. David Easter and Const. Matt Rilkoff had been adjourned until mid-December, but officials said Tuesday that sanctions will now be handed down Nov. 30 at 1 p.m.
Both are facing the possibility of a demotion within rank for one year, which would mean a $15,000 decrease in salary for that year.
The memes targeted the former chief of the LPS and deputy police chief.
A hearing will also continue for one officer who pleaded guilty to five counts of misconduct and not guilty to a sixth count. That has been rescheduled from December to Jan. 10, 2022.
The first day of the hearing earlier this month saw Sgt. Jason Moulton, along with Easter and Rilkoff all admit to at least four of the counts against them, including:
- The use of profane, abusive or insulting language toward a member of a police service or the public;
- Insubordination through words or actions;
- Neglect of duty by failing to report a matter that was their duty to report; and,
- Abetting or knowingly being an accessory to a contravention by another peace officer.
Moulton also admitted to neglecting, without lawful excuse to promptly and diligently perform your duties as a police officer. Easter and Rikoff pleaded not guilty to that allegation.
Moulton's sentencing hearing is set for Dec. 15.
A hearing for two other officers — Const. Keon Woronuk and Const. Derek Riddell — has been pushed to Feb. 3, 2022 and both previously announced their intention to resign from the force.
A sixth officer, who has not been identified, has been charged with discreditable conduct and neglect of duty in connection with the investigation.
In 2018 the Edmonton police service began investigating allegations that several Lethbridge police officers were sending around offensive memes in a group chat called the 'Meme Militia'.
To join the group, members reportedly had to share their own jokes.
Those memes have not been made public, but they've been described by those who have seen them as profane, with some even poking fun of mental and physical disabilities.