Suspect Warned of "Negative Consequences" after Firing

When Vestor Flanagan AKA Bryce Williams was fired from WDBJ back in 2013, police had to be called to the station. 

Flanagan warned a manager that there would be "negative consequences" for his firing and vowed he would "make a stink and it's going to be in the headlines."

"Get your hands off me!" Flanagan told police who had been called to remove him from the station, tossing a cross at his supervisor and telling him, "You'll need this."

Described in court documents, the ugly scene now appears to have foreshadowed a tragedy aired live on television.

The ending to Flanagan's year as a reporter at the Roanoke, Va., station, is detailed in a lawsuit he filed last year accusing his former employer of racial discrimination.

The file, at more than 100 pages, details incidents at the station that suggest Flanagan, 41, was underperforming, angry and belligerent with colleagues and supervisors.

Flanagan, an African-American who had complained to managers of racism in the office, had more than a decade previously filed a failed racial discrimination lawsuit against a TV station in Tallahassee, Fla., that had also let him go.

Over the nine months leading up to his dismissal, WDBJ-TV managers documented Flanagan's repeated failings as a reporter and a series of minor but disturbing incidents of "unprofessional" behavior which made his colleagues feel "threatened," according to the suit.

Flanagan's boss Dan Dennison wrote in a May 2012 memo to Flanagan that, "On three separate occasions in the past month and a half you have behaved in a manner that has resulted in one of your co-workers feeling threatened or uncomfortable."

His behavior included berating a cameraman without good cause in front of the public and cutting short an interview, having "stormed off in anger," Dennison wrote.

In a later memo after another angry outburst, Dennison warned Flanagan that "under no circumstances should you engage in harsh language, demonstrate aggressive body language, or lash out at photographers in front of members of the public."

And by June 2012, Dennison had mandated that Flanagan get help or face dismissal, the suit said.

"We can no longer afford to have you engage in behaviors that constitute creation of a hostile work environment," the supervisor wrote.

But Flanagan continued to disappoint. He was faulted in a series of critical memos for wearing a sticker supporting President Barack Obama, for failing to properly investigate stories he was assigned to cover and for stiffly clutching papers in his hands even when reading from a teleprompter.

He seemed to nurse grudges against colleagues, snapping at an anchor over a trivial script dispute and venting at a producer after a technical glitch canceled one of his live shots, the file alleged.

By December 2012 he confided to bosses that "maybe it's time for me to go."

Still, he took his dismissal poorly, according to the file.

Three co-workers gave accounts of his anger as he was escorted from the building, after telling his bosses that they should call the police if they wanted him to leave.

He told one officer who led him out, "You know what they did? They had a watermelon back there for a week and basically called me a n-----," the records state.

When police arrived to escort him out of the building, Flanagan refused. The officers approached Flanagan and tried to remove the desk phone from his hand, repeatedly asking him to leave.

Flanagan then threw a hat and a small wooden cross at Dennison, reportedly saying: “You need this.”

H/T Chicago Tribune