MANDEVILLE, La. — The Mandeville Police Department now says that a memorial for Capt. Vincent Liberto was not actually vandalized, but that an outside group had removed tattered flags intending to replace them with fresh ones.
In the initial Facebook post Saturday, the Mandeville Police Department said officers were planning to clean up tattered flags along the road and replace them with a small, permanent memorial to honor the anniversary of his death.
"However, some evil, hate-filled individuals thought it better to desecrate the site," the post reads.
But later in the day, the department's Facebook account posted an update:
"A member of a local group with good intentions came forward and took credit/responsibility. The individual (whom we shall not name) contacted MPD and stated that his group removed the items but had purchased new flags with the intention of replacing them."
Mandeville police say neither they not Liberto's family were told about the plan to replace the flags, and asked anybody thinking of making a similar gesture to contact them beforehand.
"This is obviously a very sensitive issue to the family, the (police department) and to our community!" the updated post reads. "Everyone was angry and upset needlessly."
Liberto, a law enforcement veteran of nearly 30 years, was shot to death on Sept. 20, 2019 while pursuing a suspect near Highway 22. After his death, the first in more than 50 years for the department, the Mandeville community rallied together in support of the fallen officer.