Three officers in a North Carolina police department have been fired after a department audit of a video recording captured them using racial epithets and making references to “slaughtering” Black people.
What We Know:
- On Tuesday, the Wilmington Police department took action against Cpl. Jessie Moore and officers Kevin Piner and Brian Gilmore. All three have been fired for misconduct after an internal investigation “uncovered extensive violations” of the department’s policies, including its standard of conduct and use of appropriate language. Each was accused of violating standards of conduct, criticism, and use of inappropriate jokes and slurs.
- The investigation started as a result of a sergeant’s routine monthly inspection. The sergeant was reviewing video footage from officer Piner’s in-car camera that had been classified as “accidental activation”. The sergeant listened to the conversation and determined comments made by Piner and Moore were “extremely racist” and later contacted the department administrator for the camera system.
- The video footage is about 2 hours long with recorded conversations between Piner and Gilmore and a later captured phone call between Piner and Moore.
- At the 46-minute mark of the video, Piner and Gilmore began talking from their respective cars. During the conversation, Piner began criticizing the department, saying its only concern was “kneeling down with the black folks”. Gilmore then said he watched a video on social media about white people bowing down on their knees and “worshipping Blacks”.
- About an hour and 14 minutes into the video, Piner received a call from Moore. Moore began to tell Piner about a woman he had just arrested, referring to the Black female as a “negro”. He also referred to the woman by using a racial slur. Moore later repeated the use of the slur in describing a Black magistrate as well as using a gay slur to describe the magistrate.
- Later, according to the investigation, Piner told Moore that he feels a civil war is coming and that he is ready. Piner said he was going to buy a new assault rifle, and soon “we are just going to go out and start slaughtering them (expletive). I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait.” Moore responded that he wouldn’t do that. Piner then told Moore that he felt a civil war was needed to “wipe them off the (expletive) map. That’ll put them back about four or five generations.” Moore told Piner he was “crazy,” and the recording stopped a short time later.
- When interviewed separately the officers admitted it was their voices on the video and didn’t deny any of the content. However, all the officers denied that they were racists, blaming their comments on the stress on law enforcement in light of the protests over the death of George Floyd.
- “When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted,” Police Cheif Donny Williams said at a news conference on Wednesday. “There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.”
- After conferring with the city council, Wilmington City Manager Sterling Cheatham cleared Williams to release the details in a document containing a detailed summary of the investigation. “Why are we releasing this information this way and at this time? Because it is the right thing to do,” Williams said. “Normally, personnel laws allow only a very small amount of information to be made public. However, in exceptional cases, when it is essential to maintain public confidence in the administration of the City and the Police Department, more information may be released.”
In addition to being fired, the cases involving the Wilmington officers will be reviewed by the district attorney’s office to determine if they committed any crimes or showed bias toward criminal defendants. Williams said he will recommend the three officers not be rehired by notifying the North Carolina Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission about their behavior. The commission determines whether or not an officer can maintain their state certification.