Attorney defends Polk County deputy's tweets as protected speech

During a press conference last month, the picture Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd painted of Deputy Peter Heneen was damning.

"We need to put down ugly language," said Judd. 

 29-year old Heneen was arrested and charged with making written threats to kill or harm government officials or conduct a mass shooting. 

However, his attorney Anthony Rickman says there is no evidence of that.

"Nowhere does he threaten to do any terrorist act to the government," argues Rickman. 

Rickman says the day of the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol, Heneen was texting with a fellow deputy expressing his anger over what he saw as government tyranny, especially the shooting of a protester inside the capitol.

Heneen tweeted: "You shoot someone for what? climbing into a building. [expletive] the feds. shoot the fed! need to make the streets of D.C. to run red with the blood of the tyrants." 

PREVIOUS: PCSO: Deputy arrested for threats of Capitol violence

Rickman explained his client’s point of view.

"In his mind, the government doesn’t have the right to be judge, jury, and executioner and kill somebody because you're in the capitol building," said Rickman. 

He says during the text exchange the other deputy was egging his client on, claiming the feds would come to his home and make him disappear.

"He said there going to come to your home with flash-bang grenades, take out your children, take out your family," argued Rickman. 

Rickman says Heneen never made any specific threats against anyone, yet others online, including the rioters, were doing just that.

"Not one person who tweeted 'hang Pence' was prosecuted," said Rickman. 

While Heneen's speech may be ugly, Rickman says it's protected speech. The father of two never imagined a private conversation would turn his life upside down.

"What we have here is the government being the word police," explained Rickman. 

Heneen is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.