Trooper Robert LaMay, the defiant Washington state police officer who quit his job over a vaccination requirement imposed by Governor Jay Inslee, has died as a result of Covid-19.
LaMay was 50 when his death was announced on Friday, becoming one of 10,699 Washington residents that have died of COVID.
LaMay resigned from his job to object to Inslee’s mandate that required most health care workers and state employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 18, although medical and religious exemptions could be considered.
His last broadcast went viral when he signed off the radio in his patrol car by declaring that “Jay Inslee can kiss my ass.”
LaMay took early retirement in October rather than get vaccinated.
Conspiracy theories about the pandemic and lies recited on social media — or at White House news conferences — had penetrated deep into America’s right-wing audience, along with election lies and other anti-government beliefs that have bitterly divided the nation.
“I am deeply saddened over the news that our former friend and colleague Trooper Robert LaMay has passed away. This agency’s prayers and remembrances are with his family and loved ones,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “Rob served honorably for over two decades and we were disappointed to see him leave the agency this past October. His service to this state and agency will be long remembered and appreciated.”
By Oct. 19, roughly three percent of employees had already been fired or quit their jobs for not complying with the vaccine mandate.
“The high number of state employees who have gotten vaccinated is good news. Good for the workers, their colleagues and the people they serve,” said Inslee’s press secretary Mike Faulk, in a statement in October.
“While we are sorry to see that three percent go and we wish them well, we are pleased that it is not higher,” Faulk added. “Some have the option to return if they are fully vaccinated within the next month. Washington State government is a great place to work and these positions will be filled.”
Last summer, LaMay had said he and his family did not “do” vaccines and he never received any as an adult.
In August, on his Facebook account, he said vaccines go against his religious beliefs. His account is no longer visible.
While 73 other commissioned officers quit the State Patrol over the mandate, none received as much media attention as LaMay, whose image above was captured during an appearance on Fox News, a frequent promoter of false information and partisan lies.
On Jan. 12, Jerrod Sessler, a Republican hoping to exploit the deadly pandemic to boost his for Congress in Washington’s 4th district, claimed that LaMay endorsed him and said: “Lamay took the hearts of Americans by storm when he resigned from his position as a State Trooper because he refused to succumb to the mandates enforced upon him by a constitutionally over-extended Governor.”
Trooper Eric Gunderson died Sept. 26 after contracting COVID while on duty six weeks earlier.
Gunderson was 38 and unvaccinated at the time he contracted the illness, but his family said he would have followed the mandate.
“It is important for everyone to know, he was not a part of any anti-vaccine or political movement,” Gunderson’s family said in a statement.