The Slatest

The Public Face of Law Enforcement for the Atlanta Shootings Is Part of the Problem

Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Capt. Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, speaks at a press conference on Wednesday in Atlanta. Megan Varner/Getty Images

The public face of the police response to the deadly shooting in Atlanta Tuesday night has proven to be problematic, sparking an outcry over his early handling of the rampage that killed six Asian women. Problems started Wednesday when Cherokee County sheriff’s office Capt. Jay Baker, who handles communications and community relations at the county sheriff’s office where the first shooting took place, characterized the 21-year-old accused of carrying out the murders as “having a bad day.”

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That seemed like a gallingly sympathetic light to be casting upon someone who just murdered innocent people, further rattling the Asian community in the U.S. that feels under siege since the pandemic. “He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope,” Baker said of the shooter. “Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”

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Baker, who has been out front from the start as a law enforcement spokesperson, then went on to downplay the apparent racial motivation for the shooting, which targeted Asian women. “He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Baker told reporters.

Baker’s tone came off as cavalier and callous, but might well be explained by one of Baker’s (public) Facebook posts that came to light after the shooting. In an April 2020 post, Baker shared a photo depicting a shirt reading “Covid 19,” written in the style of the logo of Corona beer. “IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA.” The mocking tone and content of the post mimicked that of Donald Trump over the past year.

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