Cases involving officer who made 'racist' comment under review

- The City of Bartow just put one of its police officers on administrative leave, pending a disciplinary hearing, for something she posted on social media.

Officer Christina Arribas referred to former President Barack Obama as a gorilla in a post on her personal Facebook page.

Bartow Police Chief Joe Hall did not reprimand Arribas when it happened last November. However, State Attorney Brian Haas was made aware of the post on Thursday, and he reacted quickly.

"There is no place for those kind of comments from a law enforcement officer," Haas said.

He then notified Arribas that she will not longer be allowed to testify in court in Polk, Highlands or Hardee counties - meaning her word as a law enforcement officer is no good, and making her a potential liability for the police department.

Haas says his office will also review every open case that involved Arribas.

"If she is a critical witness, then that case will have to be dismissed," he said.

In other words, accused criminals, some charged with felonies, may walk free.

Demonstrators, who brought the gorilla comment to light when they marched in front of the police department  Thursday, say they want Arribas and her boss, the chief of police, fired.

"We're working on that. We will be here until the chief is gone and she is gone," said Dr. Clayton Cowart, the organizer of the march. 

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