Protesters are calling for the firing of a top San Bernardino County gang prosecutor who is being investigated by county officials over a string of of social media posts riddled with racist remarks and violent language — behavior DA Mark Ramos described as "very concerning" during a news conference Monday.
Michael Selyem is on administrative leave until the investigation into his conduct is concluded, Ramos said. The DA's lead prosecutor for the central hardcore gang unit could be penalized or even fired depending on the findings of that personnel investigation.
There's no set date for when the investigation will end, but Ramos said he's trying to have county officials push the process along.
“I don’t want it to last forever. I want this done as soon as possible," he told reporters.
With a cloud of uncertainty hanging as the investigation continues, Selyem's current cases are being reassigned while his past cases are being looked over by another prosecutor in the DA's office, Ramos said. The DA also said anyone concerned about their own past cases prosecuted by Selyem should contact the conviction review unit.
For other ongoing cases, motions alleging racial bias and other issues could become a thorn in the side of San Bernardino prosecutors.
That's why the DA's office took "immediate steps" to investigate Selyem, Ramos said, when it learned of the controversial posts on June 28.
"When you talk about someone who should've been shot, perhaps killed, without getting into facts ... it's very concerning," he told reporters in regard to some of Selyem's posts about police shootings.
Selyem's Facebook and Instagram accounts have been deleted but some screenshots of the posts in question were saved by The San Bernardino Sun.
"Being a loud-mouthed c--- in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this b---- by now..." his account commented on a Facebook post about Maxine Waters, which the Sun retained a screenshot of.
Protesters rallying for Selyem's firing say the posts show racial bias and impact his ability to fairly do the job.
"That type of language has no place in society at all," said Najee Ali, one protester. He said he and other activists are filing a complaint with the county over the posts.
Another screenshot saved by The Sun shows Selyem making comments about immigration along racial lines.
Commenting on a Breitbart News post about Budweiser's "pro-immigration Super Bowl ad," Selyem's account writes: "I am all for white males immigrating here legally and starting a business. It is the terrorist a--holes sneaking in here wanting to kill me and my family that I am opposed to..."
The DA's office does not have a policy for conduct on social media, Ramos said. Though, he added, there are "policies in place regarding professional conduct as a prosecutor."
In investigating Selyem, Ramos said the office is trying to strike a balance between respecting free speech protections under the First Amendment while upholding the integrity of the office, as prosecutors "make decisions that impact peoples’ lives."
He said some other prosecutors have come to him with concerns about the posts, as they go to court with the weight of the allegations. He went so far as to say Selyem's posts could question the "ethics and integrity" of all American prosecutors.
"You’re a prosecutor 24/7," he said. "It’s not a 9-to-5 job."