Police officer who posted ‘racially insensitive’ Snapchat video fired

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By Janelle Griffith

A white Detroit police officer who posted a Snapchat video mocking a black motorist after a traffic stop has been fired.

Police Chief James Craig announced the firing of Gary Steele, an 18-year veteran of the force, Wednesday.

“Former police officer Steele has lost the trust of those he served and can no longer provide policing services in our city,” Craig said. “The actions taken by former police officer Steele not only negatively impacted our community, but also people across this great nation.”

Steele and his former partner, Officer Michael Garrison, were suspended earlier this month after the video surfaced of Steele mocking the black female driver who had been stopped by the officers Jan. 29 on Detroit’s west side. Steele was also demoted from the rank of corporal.

Feb. 1, 201901:15

Ariel Moore was driving with an expired license plate, and her car was seized by the officers during the stop.

Video surfaced afterward on Steele’s Snapchat account showing him saying, “priceless” and “bye, Felicia,” as Moore walked home. The caption on the Snapchat tags read: “What black girl magic looks like” and “celebrating Black History Month.”

Garrison is allegedly heard on the video saying, “walk of shame.”

The Detroit Police Officers Association did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment Thursday.

An investigation after the incident found other cases of Steele making disparaging remarks about blacks, Craig said at the news conference.

Investigators found “terms he used on several occasions, such as ‘Keisha,’ ‘Jakes’ and ‘homies,’ which were all derogatory, demoralizing and degrading, and yes, racially insensitive in the context of which it was used,” he said.

He also said that Steele knowingly made false statements during interviews with the internal affairs division.

Craig said he has received countless calls, letters, emails and Facebook messages about the incident.

He read aloud a portion of a letter from a New York resident that he said captured the “essence of the disdain that so many had” toward the officer over the reports.

“Clearly, this is not the kind of temperament a police officer should have in this line of work,” the letter said. “What is even more frightening is that this man has been doing this job for over 18 years. It begs the question of how many others were humiliated, shamed and mocked by a man who was supposed to respect, maintain and value law and order.”

Steele and Garrison could face criminal charges after administrative investigations are completed, Craig said.

Steele is expected to take his firing to arbitration, Craig said.

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