‘He should’ve ducked’: NJ officer suspended for comments about 5-yr-old shot dead, Cannon Hinnant

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A New Jersey detention officer was suspended after allegedly posting a “hateful” comment on social media about the 5-year-old boy who was killed in North Carolina.

Rome Smith was suspended from his job at the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Center after allegedly writing that Cannon Hinnant, who was shot to death by a neighbor earlier this month, “should’ve ducked.” Smith also accused the boy’s parents of negligence in the Facebook comment that was captured in screenshots.

Hinnant’s neighbor, 25-year-old Darius Nathaniel Sessoms, was charged with first-degree murder in the boy’s death after he allegedly walked up to him while he was riding his bike and shot him in the head. Police have not released any details about a motive for the shooting, though many on social media speculated it was about race.

The boy’s father, Austin Hinnant, told the Wilson Times, “This is no racial issue.”

But Smith, who is black, referred to race in his Facebook comment which appeared to no longer be available by early Wednesday.

“His Facebook account and other social media outlets appear to have been disabled. Attempts to reach him for comment Tuesday morning were unsuccessful,” NJ.com reported.

“He should’ve ducked,” the 49-year-old allegedly wrote. “Y’all always trying to sneak diss and discredit a black person being killed innocently by police. Blame cannon’s parents for not watching him!!! F Y’ALL.”

Cumberland County officials did not name Smith directly but confirmed the suspension, condemning his remarks as “shockingly insensitive and racist in tone,” according to NJ.com. Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella noted that details about the investigation will remain private until the review is complete.

“We will not tolerate County employees using social media to broadcast hateful messages,” Derella said. “This is not who we are and we intend to pursue the strongest action available to us.”

Smith has reportedly been enrolled in the state’s pension system for 26 years and currently earns $56,678, according to NJ.com.

Hinnant’s father choked back emotions as he spoke with a local news outlet ahead of the boy’s funeral last week.

“There wasn’t anything between me and him, any bad blood whatsoever, for him to have a reason to do this,” he said of the man who took his son’s life.

“I was looking at him as I was picking up Cannon,” the distraught father said. “I was so full of rage, but I couldn’t leave my son’s side. I wanted to be with my son.”

Social media users who saw Smith’s disgusting comment on Facebook immediately slammed it “racist” and “very disturbing,” calling for him to be fired.




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