Three North Carolina police officers were fired for misconduct after an internal video audit revealed they had made racist and threatening remarks, including some using the N-word and calling for a race-based civil war.
The Wilmington Police Department on June 23 terminated Cpl. Jessie Moore and officers Kevin Piner and Brian Gilmore, noting that they were ineligible for rehire by the City of Wilmington, according to investigative documents (pdf).
Each was accused of violating departmental standards of conduct, criticism, and use of inappropriate jokes and slurs.
Wilmington police Chief Donny Williams said in a June 24 release that the investigation into the trio came as a result of a routine video audit of police cameras. He called it “the most exceptional and difficult case I have encountered in my career,” adding that when he was informed about the conversations on the recording, “I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted.”
“This video reveals disturbing behavior that is offensive, hateful, and further undermines trust with the WPD and our community. Their actions could further fracture a delicate relationship that law enforcement agencies are having with communities,” Williams wrote in a comment to a standard of conduct review by the department’s professional standards supervisor, Lt. V.J. Baughman.
“The 46 minute and 12 second conversations were brutally offensive and deserved immediate action,” Williams said in the release.
A document summarizing the investigation reveals that at around the 46-minute mark of a video from one of the officers’ in-car cameras, an interaction took place that led to highly objectionable remarks being made.
“Their conversation eventually turned to the topic of the protests against racism occurring across the nation. Piner tells Gilmore that the only thing this agency is concerned with is ‘kneeling down with the black folks,'” Baughman wrote. The mention of “kneeling” is apparently in reference to expressing solidarity with protests following the police-custody death of George Floyd, which sparked outrage and widespread demonstrations.
Later, according to the investigation, Moore referred to a black magistrate using a racial slur and a homosexual slur. At one point, the document indicates, Piner told Moore he thinks 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]” blacks.
Moore responded by saying he would not do that.
Piner then told Moore 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” for making the remarks, the document notes.
The officers didn’t deny making the remarks documented in the standards review and insisted they weren’t racist.
“Each officer pointed to the stress of today’s climate in law enforcement as a reason for their ‘venting,'” Baughman wrote in the review.
“There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated,” Williams said in the release.
“Morale just hasn’t been at its best,” Williams said at a press conference, as cited by WWAY-TV. “Some officers may feel that they’re not liked right now. But I will say this—resilience. They continue to come to work. They work long hours, and they do what we ask them to do. As I said earlier, we have some great officers. My biggest fear with all of this is the good will all be painted with the same brush that the bad will be painted with.”
Williams said in the release that the District Attorney’s Office would review the case and determine whether any criminal charges are warranted.