By Devin Fehely

ANTIOCH (KPIX) — The head of a Bay Area police officers union has apologized after making a social media comment about police and protesters.

At the center of the controversy is Antioch police officer Steve Aiello, president of that city’s police union. He apologized in an email on Tuesday, calling it a misunderstanding about an internet meme, and his reply.

“So the quote reads ‘Maybe it’s the people, not the cops that need better training,’ says Antioch resident Shagoofa Kahn. “Then, Steve Aiello, president of the police union, said ‘I firmly believe an open-handed slap to the face’ is 100% justified in this incident.’ How does that make sense? It’s just.”

Kahn said when she saw Officer Aiello’s post on Facebook she knew it crossed a line. While she is happy it has since been deleted, she is not satisfied with the officer’s explanation, that it was somehow misconstrued.

“He said that the advocates in our community are taking it out of context when we were not,” Kahn says. “We were just reading, exactly, word for word, what he was saying.”

“These types of comments, being made by the head of the police union, almost makes me wonder why would you feel so involved to say something like that,” says Lamar Thorpe, Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem of Antioch. “His comments are not in alignment with what I see with our Chief of Police.”

Thorpe says it is that misalignment, amid the current focus on police is what makes him concerned.

“Given the climate of not just our community, but the globe,” Thorpe says. “So for anyone to say something so reckless is unfortunate.”

There will be a police accountability protest in Antioch on Wednesday. Both the mayor and the Police Chief have condemned Aiello’s Facebook post.

Officer Aiello did not respond to a KPIX 5 interview request, but has released a statement:

“To the Citizens of Antioch: As President of the Antioch Police Officers’ Association, let me clarify: There is NO instance where I would condone an Antioch police officer slapping a resident. The Facebook statement was taken out of context and I apologize to the community for having made it. Please be assured that your police officers are 100% committed to protecting the Antioch community and we are working 24/7 to serve you.”

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