SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Springfield Police Officer fired for sharing a social media post about a Black Lives Matter protest is fighting to get her job back.
Florissa Fuentes filed a case against the city of Springfield claiming there is no legal basis for the city to have fired her this past June.
Fuentes is seeking to be reinstated by the Springfield Police Department.
Her case latches onto a rift between the city council and mayor over who has the power to hire and fire police officers.
“I didn’t make that post with any malicious intent,” Fuentes said. “I didn’t want to harm any of my fellow officers.”
Fuentes claimed that her sharing of a social media post -- a picture of her niece and friend at a Black Lives Matter protest -- got her a termination letter, one that was signed by Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood.
Now seeking her job back along with back pay, Fuentes’ case draws heavily on an ordinance passed by the Springfield City Council in 2018. That law establishes a five-member Board of Commissioners for the Police Department whose members must be appointed by the mayor.
That Board of Commissioners would have sole authority to hire and fire officers.
The mayor attempted to veto that bill but was overridden by the council.
Nearly two years later, the mayor has not appointed anyone leaving the hiring and firing to Clapprood.
Fuentes’s case argues that’s illegal saying about the firing process, “The city has knowingly and intentionally failed and refused to take steps to bring it into compliance with the ordinance..."
“We need answers,” City Councilor Orlando Ramos said. “The people of the city need answers.”
Ramos was part of the effort to establish the Board of Commissioners. He said it was only a matter of time before a case like this one would arise.
“The mayor refused to appoint the police commissioners, refused to follow that law,” he said. “It was kind of up in the air and one of my concerns was what happens when there’s litigation brought forward to the city.”
Fuentes’ case also states she didn’t violate the Police Department social media policy because nothing in her post or online account linked her to the department, or criticized the agency.
City Solicitor Ed Pikula released a statement about Fuentes’ firing saying in part, “Based on what I saw previously, it would appear that the termination was legally justified and likely to be upheld in court.”
Western Mass News reached out to both Fuentes’ lawyer for further comment and the mayor, but neither one got back to us in time for today’s 6 p.m. broadcast.