Newsmax host Greg Kelly came under fire for a string of weekend tweets in which he argued that a black and Hispanic army medic who was pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop brought it on himself.
Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario filed a lawsuit against two Virginia police officers who reportedly pepper-sprayed and assaulted him before warning him that he was at risk of being put in the electric chair, The Independent reported on Sunday.
Mr Kelly went after the lieutenant in a number of tweets over the weekend, one of which read: "One more little 'tidbit' —the Bad Lieutenant Nazario had a loaded GUN on the floor of the car. In the front seat. By his Leg. Something the CORRUPT folks in the Media won't say for some 'reason.'"
The tweet drew widespread criticism.
Former Republican strategist and Department of Housing and Urban Development deputy chief of staff Shermichael Singleton was one of the critics.
He tweeted: "The Second Amendment exists [for a reason], he has EVERY right to keep and bear arms. Do we know if he had a concealed carry license? Also, even if he doesn't, in the state of Virginia you can legally have a handgun in a private motor vehicle."
He added: "And for those who are saying did he notify the police he had a gun in his car, the state of Virginia is not a Must-notify state; Virginia is a Notify-when-asked state."
Pastor and author John Pavlovitz also slammed Mr Kelly, tweeting: "You're bad at this. By "this," I mean: Explaining away your racism. Justifying discrimination. Offering a consistent gun defence. Being human. Your poor parents..."
Many of those who criticised Mr Kelly argued that the basis for his argument was racist.
Kelly later doubled-down on the Tweet claiming the officer ‘wanted’ a confrontation.
“He WANTED a confrontation. This bad Lieutenant did EVERYTHING he could to make this situation as Bad as Possible. Regarding the GUN, Most MILITARY BASES have strict policies on storing weapons. What base was he coming from? Had he been in compliance or non-compliance?”, the anchor tweeted on Monday.
Meanwhile, Second Lieutenant Nazario was praised by the US Army’s top enlisted soldier.
Sergeant Major of the US Army Michael Grinston, took to Twitter to offer his support.
“Like many of you, I was concerned by the video of LT Nazario’s traffic stop in December. He represented himself and our Army well through his calm, professional response to the situation – I’m very proud of him,” Mr Grinston said. “Situations like this are what I want Soldiers to discuss. This is the reality that some of our Soldiers still face. As a Leader, you should know that and be willing to have conversations about how events like this impact your teams.”