A D.C. police officer said he wasn’t seriously considering harming First Lady Michelle Obama and told a disciplinary hearing that he was only joking about shooting her.
Christopher Picciano, a 17-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department, “maintains that he made a sarcastic quip while inadvertently displaying an image of a gun on his smartphone,” according to his attorney.
“There was no threat,” the attorney said. “The officer made a sarcastic comment in response to a question made to him.”
So while Picciano claims this was all a big misunderstanding, one of Picciano’s colleagues, Office Leslie Clark, believed that Picciano planned to make good on his threat. The woman said Picciano showed her a picture of a gun, and, referring to Michelle Obama, said:
“This is the gun I plan to do it with.”
Clark said she waited several hours before reporting it because she feared retribution from fellow officers.
Meanwhile, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she’s taking Picciano’s situation seriously.
“There’s absolutely no place for jokes of a nature that could be perceived as threatening to the president, the first lady or anybody else,” Lanier said. “That’s not funny, and police officers get that.”
The alleged threat occurred on July 11, 2012, at Jack’s Fresh restaurant at 20th and L streets NW, when Picciano reportedly told Clark and her partner, “Yeah, because I want to kill her (Michelle Obama).” Later he allegedly answered, “I guess I would,” when the conversation turned to who would want to kill the first lady.
“I don’t know what he thinks,” Clark told investigators. “To me, it was a threat.”
Picciano’s job as a police officer includes escorting motorcades for the president, vice president and other dignitaries, but is now on desk duty. He will reportedly not be prosecuted for the threat but he could be disciplined for exhibiting conduct unbecoming a police officer.
“There’s no room for jokes or frivolity when you’re dealing with the first family,” said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.