Deputy on leave for homophobic comment over teen’s suicide

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) – A police officer has been put on administrative leave for posting a homophobic comment on a Facebook post about a teenager who killed himself after being bullied for his sexuality.  

Camika Shelby told WAFF that she believes the bullying her 15-year-old son Nigel endured contributed to his decision to end his life. She said the Huntsville teen, who came out as gay two years ago, also struggled with depression.

“With Nigel’s situation, he was already struggling with his identity, so he was going through some stressful times. And depression is real. A lot of people don’t understand that depression is a disease. And when you have a kid who is already depressed and going through a lot emotionally, for you to call him names that you shouldn’t call him or say stuff to them, it sometimes has a worse effect than it would on a child who is not struggling with depression,” Camika Shelby said.

The mother came home to find her son dead last Thursday. She wonders if something happened to Nigel at school that day.

A ceremony celebrating Nigel’s life is planned for April 27.

As the community continues to mourn, a local deputy has been put on administrative leave for posting a homophobic comment on a Facebook post about Nigel’s death.

Al.com reports Madison County Deputy Jeff Graves wrote the comment Sunday on a WZDX-TV Facebook post about the death of 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, who killed himself last week. His family says he was bullied for his sexuality.

Graves wrote “Liberty Guns Bible Trump BBQ That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement.” He said LGBTQ people are offensive and shouldn’t be accepted. Graves has deleted his comment.

Belle’s Smokin’ BBQ in northern Kentucky offers shirts with a nearly identical slogan : “I support LGBTQ: Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ.”

Sheriff Kevin Turner says an internal investigation will be conducted. Graves didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

If you’re thinking about suicide or worried about someone who might be, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a local crisis center. You can also text the Crisis Text Line by messaging 741741. 

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