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Police officer suspended over crude comment about Parkland survivors

Officer Brian Valenti joked about student activists being hit by car

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COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – A Coconut Creek police officer has been suspended after he made a crude comment on Facebook after Parkland school shooting survivors protested at South Florida Publix stores last week.

"Hope some old lady loses control of her car in that lot. Just saying," Officer Brian Valenti, a 23-year veteran of the police force, wrote on the Coral Springs-Parkland Breaking News Facebook page.

Coconut Creek Police Chief Albert "Butch" Arenal said Valenti would be suspended for five days without pay and said Valenti had expressed "deep regret for making the comment."

The Coconut Creek police were one of a number of law enforcement agencies that responded to the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead.

"The Coconut Creek Police Department has worked and collaborated closely with our community to ensure schools are safe, and to ease the anxiety of those affected by that senseless tragedy," Arenal said. "The poor judgment of one employee in one instance should not reflect on our organization as a whole."

Arenal said Valenti would apologize to the organizer of the protest, Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg.

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Led by Hogg, many Stoneman Douglas students held "die-in" protests at local Publix stores Friday to protest the Florida grocery store chain's contributions to Florida gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam, a staunch supporter of the National Rifle Association.

He called himself "a proud NRA sellout" in a tweet last year.

Hours after the protests, Publix announced the company would stop contributing to political candidates.

The Parkland student activists have been the target of abuse and criticism since they began pushing for stricter gun laws after the shooting. They have also been the subject of conspiracy theories and other false stories.