Sam Koivisto says the threat was “political hyperbole,” but after 24 years, the Jacksonville police detective is resigning amidst an interval investigation into comments he made after the election regarding an assassination of President Barack Obama. The Associated Press reports the 57-year-old told colleagues that if an order came in to kill Obama, he “wouldn’t mind being the guy.”
Koivisto was being investigated by the US. Secret Service before his resignation, and told The Florida Times-Union that the issue was “blown out of proportion” and he was planning to retire in five months anyway.
“I have not done anything criminal,” he said during questioning. “It’s political hyperbole.”
“The statement that we got was that we got is that you made a threat to kill the President,” AP reports the investigator then asked Koivisto.
Koivisto responded, “No, the only statement ever made about the President was I said, you know, just like when they killed Osama Bin Laden, I said ‘If someone says, “hey, he is the enemy of the State” or whatever and they had to take them out, then I could be the guy to do it.’ That’s not me saying I would kill the guy or anything of that nature. That’s just to say if the guy went away, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.”
The resignation ended the investigation. Sheriff John Rutherford told AP that he believes Koivisto’s comments were unacceptable workplace conduct, but not legitimate threats.
The Times-Union reports that the detective had been in the city’s pension program and would have been eligible to collect benefits in the spring. Officials say he will still be able to do so after using vacation time to bridge the gap.
News4Jax reports that even though Koivisto was investigated by the Secret Service and U.S. Attorneys’ Office, he will not face criminal charges. The Chairman of the local Duval County Democratic Party told the Times-Union that he was not troubled by the incident and would chalk it up to a case of post-election sour grapes.
Watch a report from WTSP featuring audio of Koivisto’s interview with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office: