Top Odessa Fire Department Official Suspended After Social Media Comments

By Mitch Borden

The City of Odessa has suspended Assistant Fire/Rescue Chief Joey White. This action was taken due to comments written by White on Facebook earlier this week, calling for police to shoot protestors if provoked. 

This situation comes as demonstrations are expected in Odessa over the death of 38-year-old Wallace Howell, a Black man who died while in the custody of the local sheriff’s department in June.

(Photo source: This screenshot is taken from a video forwarded to Marfa Public Radio of the Facebook exchange.)

White was responding to a Facebook post written by a recently retired Ector County Sheriff’s official. The original post asked whether law enforcement should shoot “ rioters that throw blunt objects (bricks, rocks, and water bottles) at them..?”

“Without a doubt,” White responded. “Shoot to kill these mother ——-ers!!!!!”

Marfa Public Radio became aware of White’s comments after a Midland-Odessa resident forwarded a screen capture of the exchange.

When asked, a spokesperson for the city said, in a written statement, that White has been suspended over his comments and had actually made his supervisor aware of the inappropriate statements himself. 

(Photo source: This screenshot is taken from a video forwarded to Marfa Public Radio of the Facebook exchange.)

The city’s spokesperson also wrote to Marfa Public Radio, “We want to convey our deepest apologies for the objectionable comment made by this employee.” Then continued that White’s statements do not, “reflect the values” of Odessa.

Three demonstrations will be held this week in Odessa protesting the treatment of Wallace Howell, a 38-year-old Black man who was arrested in mid-June and later died while in their custody at the Ector County jail. 

Tonight, a prayer vigil will be held for Howell, which will be followed later this week by a march on the Ector County Courthouse and picketing of the Ector County Sheriff’s Office.

About Mitch Borden

Mitch Borden is Marfa Public Radio's Permian Basin Reporter. If you have any questions about West Texas' energy industry or the Permian Basin email him at mitch@marfapublicradio.org.
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