The lead gang prosecutor in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has been placed on paid administrative leave after several of his controversial comments on social media came to light.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Selyem will be on leave pending the conclusion of a formal investigation, which could result in disciplinary action leading up to termination, District Attorney Michael Ramos announced on July 9.
“The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office does not condone hate, discrimination or incitement of violence,” Ramos said in a statement. “Our community and the entire criminal justice system depends on having fair, ethical, and unbiased prosecutors.”
The 50-year-old Selyem, who has been in the D.A.’s Office for the past 12 years, made a series of posts on social media accounts that have now been deleted. His comments have included critical references to Rep. Maxine Waters, former First Lady Michelle Obama, Mexican immigrants and the victim of a police shooting.
Referring to Waters, Selyem said: “Being a loud-mouthed c --- in the ghetto you would think someone would have shot this b ---- by now.”
On another post, Selyem shared a doctored photo of Obama holding a sign that reads, “Trump grabbed my penis.”
A different post depicts a man in a giant sombrero, and next to it Selyem wrote: “Mexican word of the day: Hide.”
Najee Ali, the CEO of Project Islamic Hope, and other civil rights activists said in a news release that Selyem should be fired.
“District Attorney Mike Ramos needs to take seriously our calls for Selyem to be terminated,” the news release said. “Selyem’s public comments are hateful and could be interpreted as a call to violence against Congress member Waters. Law enforcement personnel and officers of the court system should not incite violence.”
Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes said in a statement that “it is unbelievable to witness the bigotry and lack of moral compass from an individual who has been sworn to serve and protect the public.”
“There is no scenario where this individual’s thoughts and words will allow him to maintain an impartial stand for the public he serves,” Reyes said. “Michael Selyem’s attack on people of color is reprehensible. His words are rooted in hate and cannot be undone; he needs to be held accountable for his words.”
Reyes added that events like this “remind us of the deeply rooted structural violence people of color in our communities have to deal with.”
“We must continue to fight for a more equitable, just society for us all,” said Reyes.