Sheriff’s deputy loses job over post joking about “almost shooting someone”

A Pinnellas County, Florida deputy was terminated after over a Snapchat post where he bragged about “almost shooting someone.”

On June 25th, 23-year-old deputy Austen Callus posted a photo of himself with this caption:

“Nothing like almost shooting someone to set your head right lol. God I gate [sic] people with knives.”

Though Callus posted this on his own time and while wearing street clothes, what he wrote was apparently disturbing enough to his superiors that they placed him on administrative leave.  A few days later, Callus was out of a job.

There are three ironies about this incident that should serve as caution for those in public-facing positions like this former officer.

  1. Snapchat wasn’t the only platform that helped do him in.  Apparently, an old schoolmate saw his post on Snapchat, took a screenshot, and forwarded it to another classmate.  This person posted in on Facebook,  This is how it ultimately made it to the attention of Callus’ superiors.  Social media can be a minefield when you misbehave.
  2. Content matters.  According the Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, it wasn’t social media, per se, that prompted Callus’ firing.  It was what he said.  It seems the Sheriff wasn’t big on have public trust undermined.
  3. Callus apparently embellished his story.  The deputy finished his field training on May 27th, less that a month before this alleged incident.  According to the sheriff, there was no knife involved in the incident and, also, no one to shoot.  Like many people, he used social media to spin a tall tale.  However, in his case, the lie was too big and it ultimately cost him his job.
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An opinionated technologist, JP launched Death By Social Media when he saw just how easily and how often people's misunderstanding/abuse of social media created personal catastrophes. As a result, he wanted to provide a resource that would provide cautionary tales for those seeking to avoid similar fates.