DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Police Department tells CBS4 an officer at the center of a controversial picture on Instagram has been fired.

On Monday, the department announced Chief Paul Pazen called for an Internal Affairs investigation into the social media post which showed three apparent police officers dressed in riot gear. The caption read, “Let’s start a riot.”

That investigation, officials say, revealed the officer, Thomas McClay, violated the department’s social media policy.

They went on to say McClay posted content inconsistent with department values.

An image purportedly posted by a Denver police officer shows three officers dressed in riot gear with a caption that states “Let’s start a riot.” (credit: CBS)

City officials tell CBS4 McClay was a probationary employee allowing for a swift decision to fire him.

Denver police have responded to protests, and at times riots, since May 28. The protests are in response the to death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

The picture was posted on Sunday and has since been removed.

The Denver Police Protective Association released a statement regarding the decision:

Today a young, probationary Denver Police officer was terminated for posting an inflammatory, insensitive, and quite frankly, misguided photograph on social media. Chief Pazen swiftly used his power to remove this one officer from the Department. For the other 1,600 Denver Police officers who are left dealing with a very difficult situation, we ask the public, as well as elected City officials, to stop using social media to fan the flames of hatred. It is time to end utilizing social media as a tool to divide. It is time to sit down and talk face to face. The PPA is committed to helping our City begin to heal.

“140 characters can only be used to talk about a problem. Conversation is the only way to address a solution.”

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