December 3, 2022

Like many in these political times, Andrew Johnson turned to social media to share his thoughts on everything from the COVID virus origins, affirmative action and memes that mocked the Black Lives Matter movement and supported President Donald Trump.
“The silent majority will rise!! Day one of the Revolutionary War!! Hang on, it’s only just begun,” Johnson wrote in a post that appeared to support the Capital insurrection.
He reposted a meme of a handicapped parking space with the caption “BLM activists in Wisconsin paint street mural in support of Jacob Blake.”
Johnson was a police officer in Kissimmee.
Those social media posts, Johnson said, cost him his job.
Now, Johnson is suing the city of Kissimmee in U.S. District Court.
His lawsuit filed late last month claims Johnson was discriminated against for being a White man and his political views. His posts, he argued, were protected by free speech.
“From approximately August 2020 until early January 2021, Johnson, who is of the Christian religion, pro-life, Republican, and pro-gun, posted his opinions on his private (personal) Facebook page as a private citizen on matters of public concern,” his lawsuit said. “Johnson’s Facebook Posts did not interfere with his ability to interact with his coworkers, citizens of Kissimmee, or otherwise interfere with his job duties as a KPD police officer.
Johnson emphasized he made the social media posts off-duty.
A “concerned citizen” reported Johnson’s posts on Jan. 12, 2021, to the city, saying Johnson “is incapable of doing his job without bias which as we know is a massive problem for police in this country.”
That same day, Johnson was relieved from duty and placed on paid administrative leave, his lawsuit said. He was fired two days later because he was a “probationary police officer,” Johnson’s lawsuit said, adding he wasn’t given any other reason for his termination.
Then his firing went public. The Orlando Sentinel published a story that month that got national attention.
Johnson claimed other Kissimmee police officers who were also investigated for their social media posts were treated better than him.
Johnson said he had a spotless record before he was fired.
He started working at the Central Florida police department on March 9, 2020, right as the pandemic closed the community. In those 10 months before he lost his job, Johnson said he wasn’t disciplined.
Previously, he worked at Indian River Shores Public Safety Department, “where he was selected Officer of the Year and received multiple letters of commendation from his supervisors and previous chief,” according to Johnson’s lawsuit.
His career also included 17 years in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. He was deployed to Iraq and was honorably discharged twice, Johnson said.
“Johnson has incurred no discipline at all during his military career,” his lawsuit said.
Since his firing, Johnson’s lawsuit said “he has been unable to find employment within law enforcement and faces a severe hardship in resuming his career.”
The city of Kissimmee declined to comment for this story.
“This is an ongoing litigation, and we are unable to provide any comment currently,” city spokeswoman Melissa Zayas-Moreno said.
Johnson’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Images from the court documents are below.


Gabrielle Russon is a journalist who covers theme parks and Florida tourism. She previously worked at the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Toledo Blade and the Kalamazoo Gazette. She graduated from Michigan State University.
October 6, 2022 at 9:13 pm
He should of never been hired in the first place,a police do my have the luxury of being a racist
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October 6, 2022 at 9:47 pm
On my evening rush hour run on a very busy South Florida highway a male bicyclist with dark clothes, and no bike lights or reflective gear was biking against the traffic. As he approached runners or sidewalk walkers he shouted: MAGA.
Ten bucks says he has an AR15 next to his bed.
🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄
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