Cumberland County, IL. (ECWd) -
Steve Carr, is a Cumberland County Deputy Sheriff who has in the past been suspended/placed on administrative leave for alleged things such as:
Now we have been informed that he has allegedly distributed a racist photograph (see it here) depicting a John Deere combine in a cotton field, with accompanying text reading "Thanks to John Deere black lives haven't mattered for quite some time."
We understand a citizen complaint has been filed with the Cumberland County Sheriff.
I contacted Deputy Carr via text to the number in the photograph:
- I asked him if he sent the photo
- He asked if there was any proof
- I replied: "a screenshot with your phone number and time and date of the message and name of recipients."
- He said: "somebody illegally hacked into my personal phone to receive the information. A picture with my number by it is irrelevant. I have came to realize that anyone can put anybody's name or number by anything even if it is not them and the news and public will run with it and do whatever they want with it. Slander, manipulation, and lies."
- I asked if the County or Sheriff reimburses part of his cell phone bill (no response)
- I sent the photo and said, "so you are denying you sent this photo with the captioned text?"
- No response - meaning he did not deny it.
Later I sent an FOIA request for public records to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office asking for the following:
- Copy of all text/Facebook/email/phone or any other messages sent from telephone number 217-549-4477 on June 14, 2020, between noon and 1 p.m. that contains a photo/picture with text. This phone number belongs to Deputy Steve Carr and is either fully or partially reimbursed by the County or the Sheriff’s Department. When business or personal cell phones are fully or partially reimbursed by a public body, those messages may be treated as public records, and if such messages have been deleted from the device, the public body should direct the employee to obtain said records from the service provider.
- Copy of the times (in and out) Deputy Steve Carr worked on June 14, 2020.
- I lieu of providing the actual messages in number 1, above, a simple written confirmation by Steve Carr that he actually sent the message I asked him about (the pic of a combine in a cotton field with accompanying text) will fulfill this request.
Sheriff Maroon denied my records request stating that he had "turned over the recent investigation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to avoid any allegations of impartiality or conflict of interest. In compliance with the below Illinois Statute, I will not be able to release the requested information due to this being a pending investigation"
Sheriff Maroon also acknowledged that he would collect and obtain the requested records and keep them so they would not get deleted or destroyed.
What we do not know at this time, is if the Sheriff requested the investigation due to any alleged "hacking" of Deputy Carr's phone, or if he requested the investigation because of allegations that Carr sent the racist message.