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UNMH denies employee wrote ‘hateful’ posts

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The University of New Mexico Hospital denied Thursday that one of its employees was behind “offensive and inappropriate” comments posted on Facebook about the Rio Rancho police officer who was killed this week.

The posting, which was apparently put up Wednesday evening, has since been taken down. It carried a photo of a young man and identified the writer as a physician’s assistant who purportedly was glad the officer had been slain.

Officer Gregg Benner was shot to death Monday night after a traffic stop, allegedly by Andrew Romero, 28, who is being held on $5 million cash-only bail.

The posting said the slain officer “got what he deserved. Just because he wore a badge, didn’t make him a hero.” Other comments were more lurid.

They were attributed to a “Mike Martinez,” which could be a fictitious name. No one named Mike, Miguel or Michael Martinez is listed as an employee.

One employee called the posting “repugnant.” Benner is seen as a fallen hero in the community.

UNM Health Sciences Center spokesman John Arnold said human resources staff spent Thursday morning looking into the post and determined there was no connection to UNMH.

The objectionable comments appeared “on a social media site under the account of a person purporting to be a UNM Hospital employee,” the hospital said in a brief statement.

“However, the person who posted these hateful comments is not a UNM Hospital employee or associated with UNMH. The leadership, staff and faculty at the UNM Health Sciences Center and UNM Hospital find the posts sick and appalling, and they in no way reflect UNMH’s deep respect for law enforcement, our values or our commitment to providing the best possible care to all of our patients.

“UNM Hospital offers its deepest sympathies to Officer Benner’s family, friends and the Rio Rancho Police Department.”

Arnold said that he had not seen the posting but that several hospital employees had. Between 10 and 15 people called to complain, he said.