NORMAN — Lexington Police Officer Eddie Zaicek told The Norman Transcript he did not make comments on Facebook which became the center of a criminal investigation, but the next day he changed his story to Norman police.
On Wednesday The Norman Transcript began investigating Zaicek's comment on the public Facebook page, Re-open Norman. Three residents including Ward 1 Councilwoman Kate Bierman sent screenshots of the comments.
“Mayor dipshit, needs to be pulled out of office and tried on the court house lawn...the problem with politicians, they don’t get hung in public anymore….#bringbackpublichangings!” the post reads. It was dated May 12 at 7:30 p.m.
A second comment from Zaicek's account read, “Armed invasion...occupation, whatever u [sic] wanna call it. It needs to happen, locally, state wide, countrywide...become the front-line! This coming from me should mean something….”
Clark filed a police report Thursday morning.
Zaicek told the Norman Transcript on Thursday afternoon he did not write the comment but admitted to joining the page.
“You realize those can be manipulated, right?” he said of Facebook accounts. “I’ve seen that somewhere before, but it was referring to the president.”
He claimed he was locked out of his account and couldn't have made the post. Zaicek admitted he joined the Facebook page, which was created April 22. However, Zaicek defended the comment, saying it was not a crime and criticized Clark's re-opening plan as an overreach of power.
Despite his adamant claim to innocence, it was a different story when Norman police interviewed Zaicek.
An NPD spokeswoman said Zaicek quickly admitted to being the author of the comment.
“Investigators initiated an investigation into the post. Through the course of the investigation, all involved parties were cooperative. The individual responsible for the comment admitted to writing and posting it on social media. Investigators found no indication of a direct threat to public safety,” a statement from the NPD reads.
Zaicek will not face charges according to the NPD statement.
“Investigators presented the case to the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office who determined charges could not be filed following a thorough review of the investigation. Based on Oklahoma State Statute, the communication was not a direct threat. Further, the social media posting was determined to be communication protected by the First Amendment.”
Oklahoma state law addresses threats of violence as a felony offense in Title 21, section 1327.
"Any person who shall attempt, conspire or endeavor to perform an act of violence involving or intended to involve serious bodily harm or death of another person shall be guilty of a felony, punishable upon conviction thereof by imprisonment for a period of not more than ten (10) years," it reads.
Clark said she received a phone call from the city's interim manager, Deana Allen.
"She was very sorry that me and my family are having to go through this," Clark said. "She wanted to make sure I knew that his actions do not represent the beliefs or standards of their department."
Clark hopes to see a return to civil discourse.
"We have to get to a point this this country where we can disagree, but do so in a civil and constructive manner," she said. "Threats of violence, especially public acts of violence, are associated with some of the darkest parts of our history as a nation and cannot be tolerated."
She said NPD detectives informed her Zaicek is "willing to apologize" and she hopes to meet him eventually.
"I am going to ask to meet with him," she said. "We need to humanize each other. Social distancing has not helped with this."
The Lexington Police Department and the city manager did not return several calls for comment. It was not known if the officer has faced any disciplinary action.
Zaicek answered the phone Friday at his place of business, J&E Equipment Services, but told The Transcript he had no comment and hung up.
Clark’s order has sparked controversy after four salon owners sued her in her capacity as mayor. Cleveland County Chief District Judge Thad Balkman granted an injunction which allowed them to open ahead of her original plan. The city removed the case to federal court on May 5.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter urged Clark on May 7 to open churches before Mother’s Day weekend, citing state and federal constitutional rights. After U.S. Attorney Tim Downing of the Western District Court of Oklahoma supported Hunter’s letter with his own on May 8, Clark opened churches and entertainment venues that same day.
Editor's Note: The article has been updated to reflect attribution to an official comment by the NPD.