KAYSVILLE — Eight months after a Kaysville police officer was placed on administrative leave over comments attributed to his wife, investigators have determined that his family was the victim of catfishing.
On May 28, someone posing as the wife of Kaysville police officer Michael Criddle made racist comments on a public Facebook page regarding the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police.
Even though Criddle himself was not accused of racism or making racist comments, and Kaysville police acknowledged that both Criddle and his wife “strongly denied” the allegations and even suggested a fake social media profile may have been created, Criddle was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
On Wednesday, the Kaysville Police Department announced that based on both the internal investigation and a criminal investigation conducted by an outside agency, there was “no indication that officer Criddle or his wife had any involvement with the racist post in question or any other racist actions or inclinations.”
It is believed that someone created a fake Facebook account posing as Amber Criddle and then posted the racist comments, according to the department.
“The investigation revealed evidence that this suspect had perpetrated these same types of offenses multiple times in the past. Evidence indicated that the suspect had done this to officer Criddle’s wife as well as numerous other people that (s)he had conflicts with over the last several years,” the department said in a prepared statement.
Although Criddle was allowed to return to full-time duty on Wednesday, he said the damage has already been done.
“Really, our lives were destroyed, everything we had worked for,” he said. “To work your whole life, to build a good reputation and have it crushed in a post for 30 seconds or a minute is very difficult.”
Criddle described the next few months after the racist comments were posted as “hell on earth” for him and his family.
“My kids’ pictures were posted on social media, people wished me slaughtered on duty. We received death threats. We had to move,” he said.
Criddle had been on administrative leave since May, in part for his own protection, according to Kaysville police. He called his return on Wednesday an emotional day.
“In my heart, I knew it had nothing to do with us. And just try to tell myself, ya know, hold on. Hold on for the ride, the truth will come out,” he said.
Police say they believe they know who made the posts and the investigation is continuing by another agency. Investigators believe it is a person known to the Criddles who lives out of state, according to police. But no arrests have been made, and Kaysville Police Chief Sol Oberg isn’t sure under the state’s current laws whether a crime was committed.
“That’s probably the most discouraging thing about this is in speaking with some prosecutors, both federally and locally, I’m not sure there really is a statute that this behavior violates,” he said.
Amber Criddle recently testified in front of the Utah House Judiciary Committee, encouraging lawmakers to pass a bill that would make online impersonation — also known at catfishing — a crime.