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By Elisha Fieldstadt
A former Detroit police officer who was fired after mocking a black motorist in a video he posted on social media is now facing two lawsuits over alleged racially-motivated misconduct and abuse.
Gary Steele, who was fired earlier this year after posting the video of the black female driver, was sued Friday by that woman and another black woman whose arm he allegedly broke in 2018 while trying to arrest her.
Both lawsuits were filed in Wayne County Circuit Court and also list the Detroit Police Department and the City of Detroit.
Ariel Moore is suing for $75,000 after a January incident in which Steele and his former partner, Michael Garrison, who is also listed in Moore’s suit, seized her car for driving with an expired license plate and forced her to walk home. The lawsuit said the incident happened at nighttime when the temperature was “dangerously below freezing.”
Steele filmed Moore walking and posted the video on his Snapchat account, while he and Garrison remarked: “Walk of shame. In the cold” and “Bye Felicia,” according to the lawsuit.
Steele captioned the post: “What black girl magic looks like” and “celebrating Black History Month.”
Steele and Garrison, both 18-year veterans of the Detroit Police Department, were fired from the force following the incident, Police Chief James Craig announced.
Craig said that both Garrison and Steele had histories of making disparaging remarks about black people, using words like “Keisha,” “Jakes” and “homies.”
Elaine Murriel, the woman who alleged Steele broke her arm, is suing for $25,000.
Murriel was dropping off her son at his father’s house in May 2018 when the father’s girlfriend tried to run her over with a car, and Murriel fired her legally-owner firearm in self defense, her lawsuit alleges.
When officers arrived, she told them that she had a legally owned firearm and had recently discharged it, and she was she “extremely compliant,” according to officers’ reports, the lawsuit said.
But Steele “suddenly and physically” placed Murriel under arrest while she was holding her baby, according to the lawsuit. Steele ordered one officer to hold Murriel’s arms while telling another officer to “grab and rip the scared, crying child” from her hands, the lawsuit said.
While Steele was trying to handcuff Murriel by “pulling and yanking” on her arm and she was screaming in pain, Steele “viciously and savagely” bent her left arm backward “in an abnormal manner, and against the natural range of motion,” the suit said.
Despite Murriel’s screaming, Steele pulled her arm back “with such force” that he broke it, according to the suit.
“Other responding officers were upset and angry over Steele’s conduct, and commented that Steele’s actions were completely unnecessary,” said the suit.
Lawrence Garcia, who is representing the city, responded to the lawsuits by reiterating that the two officers have been fired.
Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, whose firm is bringing the suits, said, “When it costs them money, then they start making changes and that’s the purpose of these lawsuits,” according to NBC affiliate WDIV.