DC
07/10/2013 04:50 pm ET

D.C. Police Officer Christopher Picciano Cleared Of Charges Relating To Michelle Obama Threat

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The D.C. police officer accused of threatening to shoot first lady Michelle Obama has been cleared of administrative charges relating to that incident.

But a three-person departmental review board recommended that Metropolitan Police Department officer Christopher Picciano be suspended for 40 days without pay for "conduct unbecoming an officer" -- a punishment relating to postings on social media websites, reports the Washington Post:

Those included a communist emblem — a hammer and sickle — superimposed over a campaign poster of President Obama and Picciano’s self-described job description as “zoo keeper of the MPD.” Angry with the D.C. Council over a vote to curtail pension benefits, Picciano wrote on Facebook about taking a rifle to a tall building.

Picciano was initially charged with making threatening comments about shooting Michelle Obama and showing off a cell phone picture of a gun. This incident was said to have taken place on July 11, 2012, at a D.C. restaurant.

The U.S. attorney's office decided against filing official charges against Picciano. An anonymous official told the Washington Post that Secret Service agents and other law enforcement officials found that Picciano “wasn’t being serious.”

"We’re pleased that he was exonerated of all allegations that he made threats against the first lady,” said Picciano's attorney, James W. Pressler, according to the Washington Post, which added that Picciano “has maintained from the beginning that it was an off-the-cuff remark, a joke.”

Speaking in July 2012, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, "There’s absolutely no place for jokes of a nature that could be perceived as threatening to the president, the first lady or anybody else. That’s not funny, and police officers get that."

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray agreed, saying there's "no room for jokes or frivolity when you're dealing with the first family."

Picciano, a 17-year veteran, was a motorcycle escort for White House officials and other dignitaries. He was placed on desk duty while an investigation of the alleged threat was underway. According to the Post, Picciano has most recently been working in evidence control.

Pressler told the Washington Post that his client is considering an appeal.

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