Chicago police supervisor quits amid probe into racist, incendiary social media posts
CHICAGO - A Chicago police supervisor retired earlier this month amid an investigation into racist and other incendiary comments he made on a Facebook account he falsely claimed had been hacked.
Police Lt. John Cannon, who once served as a watch commander of the Near North Police District, stepped down on Oct. 15 — nearly a year after the Civilian Office of Police Accountability found he showed a "flagrant disregard" for department policies and recommended he be fired.
"Lt. Cannon’s posts disparage the same protected classes he took an oath to protect and serve, including Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, the LGBTQ community, and women," stated the COPA report.
"Through his use of social media, Lt. Cannon has demonstrated that he is unable to treat all the citizens of Chicago with fairness and equity," it said.
It was not known what, if any, action was taken by the Chicago Police Department. Police representatives didn’t respond when asked whether Supt. David Brown agreed with COPA’s recommendation to fire Cannon.
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Max Caproni, executive director of the Chicago Police Board, said Cannon’s allegations were never referred to the board, which rules on serious police disciplinary cases.
Cannon’s attorney, Dan Herbert, didn’t respond to questions.
The COPA investigation was sparked by a complaint that also flagged Officer Robert Bakker’s connections to the far-right Proud Boys, the oversight agency said. Bakker wasn’t fired following a probe, setting off a recent firestorm at City Hall.
In Cannon’s case, COPA focused on 19 allegations related to the social media posts, 16 of which were sustained. One framed firefighters as homosexuals. Another proclaimed that former President Barack "Obama is Isis," with an edited photo of Obama wearing a hijab.
In one jarring example cited by COPA from July 2018, Cannon appeared to respond to body-worn camera footage of the fatal police shooting of Harith Augustus, a well-regarded South Shore barber whose death sparked protests and unrest.
"Brave young warriors face to face with an urban terrorist and the better trained professional Police Officer won the day," he wrote. "Excellent work by all the new batch of warriors. Love it."
Cannon was publicly identified as "Samuel Hipster" — the name he used on Facebook — in June 2020 after he made a complaint against the former dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where he studied.
Cannon contended emails sent by administrators to the school community in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd discriminated against white people and police officers.
He followed up the complaint with a lawsuit claiming a fellow student sent an email blast on behalf of a lawyers group calling for the removal of Chicago police officers from the school. Cannon contended the appeal amounted to "discriminatory, harassing dissemination of hate speech."
Cannon also claimed the student "hacked" into his "private Facebook account" and published its contents to "defame" him and "discredit his complaints."
Cannon spoke to at least two media outlets after filing his lawsuit, claiming his posts were manipulated to make him look like a "bigot or a racist or some nefarious actor."
"I think there’s been significant damage done to my reputation," he told ABC-7. "So I think the law school has a responsibility to restore me to where I was before these attacks."
Despite those claims, Cannon admitted to investigators he never noticed anyone else using his account and, for the most part, conceded he made the incendiary posts.
Those posts appeared to be a direct screenshot from his page, COPA noted, meaning they were "accessible to someone who shared the lieutenant’s posts publicly."
Cannon later said he "meant that someone accessed his social media without permission," COPA said. But Cannon "did not provide any evidence that someone had improperly accessed his account," the agency noted.
In fact, Cannon clearly identified himself on his Facebook page, even using his full name for the profile link and web address. He also posted a selfie and a letter congratulating him on making the law school’s dean’s list, COPA found.
"The liberal police hating class at this law school probably hates the fact that a rotten police officer kicks a— there," he wrote in a caption related to the photo of the letter. "Just give me my law degree you a—holes."