A Detroit man pleaded guilty based on threatening Facebook posts he made during a livestream of a slain Detroit Police officer’s funeral, announced United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.
Joining McQuade in the announcement was Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Division, and Chief James Craig, Detroit Police Department.
Judge Sean F. Cox accepted the guilty plea of DeShawn Maurice Lanton, 22, of Detroit. Lanton’s plea agreement calls for a sentence of 15-21 months.
On Sept. 23, 2016, a funeral was held for Detroit Police Sergeant Kenneth Steil, who was murdered in the line of duty. Several media outlets covered the funeral, including Channel 7 Action News in Detroit, which provided a livestream of the funeral via Facebook Live. While watching the funeral on Facebook Live, Lanton, using the Facebook moniker “Kane Pnotes,” wrote threatening messages on the Facebook Live thread accompanying the livestream. Specifically, as the Facebook Live feed showed hundreds of law enforcement personnel enter the church to pay respects to Sargent Steil, Lanton posted the following:
“maybe I should drop a bomb on tha building to get rid of the rest of y’all”
Several other Facebook users observed Lanton’s comments, viewed them as a threat to the funeral and contacted law enforcement.
“We are committed to prosecuting any threat that rises to the level of a ‘true threat’ under the law,” McQuade said. “While criticism of government and law enforcement is generally protected by the First Amendment, specific threats to harm police officers cross the legal line.”