The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating after a song performed at a retired officer’s party reportedly mocked Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, as looking “like some old Swiss cheese.”
The song, parodied after the 1970s Jim Croce hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” was performed Dec. 15 at a party organized by retired LAPD Officer Joe Myers at an Elks Lodge in Glendale.
“Michael Brown learned a lesson about a messin’ with a badass policeman,” the performer, identified as Gary Fishell, sings in the song, which was captured on video and posted by TMZ. “And he’s bad, bad Michael Brown, baddest thug in the whole damn town. Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog.”
The lyrics go on to say Brown “looked like some old Swiss cheese,” with “brains splattered on the floor.” In another line, Brown is mocked as “deader than a roadkill dog.”
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck rebuked the song, writing on Twitter: “Like many of you, I find it offensive & absurd. It does not reflect the values of the #LAPD.”
“I have directed our Professional Standards Bureau to look into this & determine if any active department employees were involved,” he added.
The party was part of a charity golf event, thrown by Mr. Myers, who left the force in 2007. TMZ reports that 50 to 60 people attended the dinner, and about half were police officers, most of whom were retired.
“How can I dictate what [Mr. Fishell] says in a song?” Mr. Myers asked a TMZ reporter. “This is America. We can say what we want. This is a free America.”
Mr. Fishell told TMZ that he now realizes it was a mistake to perform the song in light of ongoing protests against police brutality and racial discrimination. His lawyer explained, “He’s a goofball who writes funny songs. … He thought the room would get a kick out of it.”
A trustee for the Elks Lodge told TMZ that the party was not an Elks Club event and that the Lodge does not “stand for any racist things like this.”
“It’s deplorable and inappropriate and the Lodge will take disciplinary action against [Mr. Fishell] and possibly the people who organized this event,” the trustee reportedly said.