The five public defenders who criticized Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer for attending a pro-Trump rally that ended in a mob siege of the U.S. Capitol, as well as for alleged incidents of racial profiling, called for an “open, independent and thorough” investigation of the detective's conduct.
In a second letter released on Monday, following Quire’s Sunday response to the group’s first letter regarding Farmer, the group said that community leaders had made Quire aware of concerns about Farmer’s alleged racial profiling “for some time now.”
The State Journal has confirmed this, as two members of the community group Focus on Race Relations (F.O.R.R.) said that they met with Quire in August on the matter.
“Community leaders have made Sheriff Quire aware of their concerns about racial profiling by Deputy Farmer for some time now,” the group wrote. “We hope that his investigation into our concerns initiates more of a response than their concerns have received. We call on his investigation to be open, independent, and thorough. This state has seen enough whitewashing investigations into police conduct.”
Quire, in his response to the public defenders' first letter on Friday, said Sunday that he had reassigned Farmer while his office investigates the claims of racial profiling.
The public defenders did note that while some police departments have announced their cooperation with the FBI to determine whether officers in attendance at Wednesday’s rally violated any laws, Quire did not indicate any intention to do so.
Quire, in his response, said that Farmer “has stated his innocence” and that no evidence of Farmer committing a crime while at the Trump rally has surfaced.
In an interview with Lexington news station LEX18 after attending the rally, Farmer called the siege of the U.S. Capitol “disgraceful.” He also repeated unproven claims about “voting discrepancies” in the 2020 presidential election.
The public defenders said that Farmer’s involvement in the protest, while protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, leads them to question his decision-making.
“We believe that the allegations of voter fraud that Deputy Farmer stands for are an easily refutable lie,” they wrote. “As a peace officer, Deputy Farmer must make decisions based on what people tell him and determine whether they are credible in order to make arrests and detain people. If Deputy Farmer stands for baseless conspiracy theories against the laws of the country, how easily will he succumb to other lies resulting in the wrongful arrest or detention of innocent people?”
The public defenders said they supported Quire’s promise to investigate Farmer’s conduct in the spirit of due process.
“As public defenders we support due process and support Sheriff Quire’s decision to extend Deputy Farmer the same due process our clients are entitled to,” the group wrote.