Family members of a man charged with a felony for posting a graphic tattoo directed at a Minneapolis police officer on Facebook said Friday that he was merely expressing frustration about the officer, and they questioned why the officer was involved in the man's arrest.
Antonio Frasion Jenkins Jr., 20, of St. Louis Park, did not speak other than to confirm his address during his first court appearance Friday before Hennepin District Judge William Koch.
Although ink was visible on his hands, there was no sign of the tattoo on his left bicep that landed him in jail facing terroristic threat charges. Jenkins, who was on parole after serving a 17-month prison sentence for aggravated robbery, remains held without bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 12.
His charges, which could result in a prison sentence of up to five years, drew criticism from a local civil liberties advocate who said the action is in bad taste but does not merit the charges.
Jenkins was charged Wednesday after investigators discovered his Facebook post of the tattoo, which portrays a person holding a handgun with the barrel partially in the mouth of a pig dressed as a police officer. It includes the misspelled name and badge number of the officer in question and an expletive directed toward police. Charges say that Jenkins captioned the Facebook photo as "a pig get'n his brains blew up." The post drew 18 "Likes," or thumbs-up responses, according to charges.
The officer, a 22-year veteran and member of the gang investigation team, saw the Facebook post Oct. 30 and considered it a direct threat to his life, saying it made his family fearful, the charges said.
But Jenkins' family, who attended Friday's court appearance, said the officer has long harassed Jenkins and his family, largely because his father has the same name. Antonio Frasion Jenkins Sr., 39, is in the Hennepin County jail for drug charges filed in September.
Jenkins' family members said he is covered in tattoos and they thought the latest addition was satire of a cop no one likes. They also said the officer was part of the group of officers who arrested Jenkins Monday for driving without a license, then pulled up his shirt sleeve to look at the tattoo.
"If he felt threatened, why was he the one who arrested him?" said Jenkins' aunt, Kay Thomas. "When he pulled him over, he said, 'Where's the tattoo?'"
Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer said that although the officer did not initiate the Monday traffic stop, he was one of 11 officers that eventually responded to the scene. He said several other people were in the car with Jenkins when he was arrested.
Palmer declined to address the family's allegations about the officer.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921