Dirty Kanza Founder Jim Cummins was fired by the race's parent company Life Time Fitness following a post Cummins made on his person Facebook page describing the shooting of Rayshard Brooks as "justified."
The story broke Saturday after CyclingTips obtained emails from Life Time senior staff showing that "Cummins was the subject of a 'thorough investigation' within the company and that Cummins was been placed on leave until the culmination of this investigation."
On Friday, Cummins made a post to his personal Facebook page asking his followers to watch a video in which two police officers attempt to apprehend Daniel Clary, a black man who shot an officer during a 2018 arrest in Pennsylvania. Clary was later convicted and sentenced to 110 years in prison. The officer survived.
"Watch the ENTIRE video," Cummins said in the post. "Then if you still believe the Cop you shot Rayshard Brooks, after he stole the officer's taser and then used it against him, was not justified in shooting Mr. Brooks... then unfriend me now."
Brooks, a 27-year-old black man from Atlanta, was killed June 12 after he tried to flee from two white police officers after fell asleep inside his car outside a Wendy's restaurant. He was reportedly inebriated and took a taser from one of the officers. Brooks then fired the taser in the direction of one of the officers, but did not make contact.
Brooks was shot in the back as he tried to run from the scene. His death has been ruled a homicide.
Cummins’ Facebook account has been deactivated and the post has been deleted.
Kimo Seymour, president of Life Time's events and media division, confirmed that Cummins had been terminated and told The Emporia Gazette Sunday morning that it was a "mutual decision to part ways."
"We wish nothing but for the best for Jim," Seymour said. "He was very understanding and it was a mutual decision to part ways."
Seymour said he did not believe Life Time had a specific policy regarding employees activities on personal social media pages. However, the company wanted to "uphold certain principles and values."
"We are careful about how to manage these situations and if an employee expresses a value that we think doesn't align with our principles and values," he said. "We think this event does stand for diversity and inclusion. ... We believe we need to take more positive action toward diversity. Cycling in general needs that."
Seymour said he believes the DK can be a leading event in that area. In recent years, DK Marketing Manager Kristi Mohn, along with Operations Manager LeLan Dains and Athlete Services Manager Treva Worrel, has lead an effort to bring in more women to the race. The lottery for the 2020 race was the largest on record, Seymour said.
"We would love to be leaders in that area," he said. "We have a phenomenal team there in Emporia with LeLan, Kristi and Treva. Our company has been fairly successful in getting involved in events that support the community. That’s one of the unique things with Emporia and the Dirty Kanza — it's just such an amazing community event. We have an amazing team that comes together. We hope the event will continue to thrive."
The article by CyclingTips.com can be found here: https://cyclingtips.com/2020/06/dirty-kanza-founder-placed-on-leave-after-calling-a-police-shooting-justified/
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a more accurate rundown of the circumstances surrounding the death of Rayshard Brooks.