A Detroit police officer was handed his pink slip this week after posting social media video of himself making racist, insensitive remarks about a Black driver following a traffic stop.
Former Officer Gary Steele, who worked for the Detroit Police Department for eight years, was initially demoted after he was heard in the videos mocking motorist Ariel Moore, 23, whom he’d just pulled over for allegedly driving with expired license plate tags. In the clips posted to Snapchat, Steele says “priceless” and “Bye, Felicia” shortly after seizing Moore’s car.
The young woman was reportedly forced to walk home in dangerously frigid temperatures after refusing a ride from police.
On Wednesday, Police Chief James Craig announced Steele was no longer on the force.
“I’ve made the determination that police officer Gary Steele be terminated from his position … which is effective today,” Craig told reporters at a press briefing via Facebook. “Former police officer Steele has lost the trust of those he served and can no longer provide policing services in our city.”
“Clearly the video discredited the young lady, who’s a resident of our city, and we recognize that this certainly has the potential of betraying the trust that we have worked so hard to maintain between the police department and our community,” he added.
Craig also mentioned the “Celebrating Black History Month” and “What Black Girl Magic Looks Like” filters used in the video, which he said, “were all derogatory, demoralizing, degrading and yes, racially insensitive in the context.”
The department is expected to make decision on the future of Steele’s partner, Michael Garrison, in the coming week. In the video upload, Garrison was heard saying “walk of shame” and Moore wandered alone in the dark. Both officers were suspended with pay Feb. 4 after the department launched an internal investigation.
Craig said the two could possibly face criminal charges, adding that their violations fell under three categories: “the social media post incident, improper characterization of community members and knowingly making false statements in interviews during the investigation,” reported The Detroit Free Press.
The January incident wasn’t the first time Steele had posted an offensive Snapchat video. According to a Detroit News report, the department’s internal probe uncovered video from 2017 that showed the officer taunting an African-American family who was forced to carry Christmas gifts home after their car was impounded.
“There were at least two separate instances where the officer called African-Americans in a public space ‘Keishas,’ ‘Jakes’ or ‘homeys,’” Craig of the other cases they found of Steele making disparaging remarks about Black citizens. “What made it derogatory and degrading was the context in which it was used.”
The officer has also faced legal trouble in the past and was charged in 2008 after allegedly attacking his ex-girlfriend and firing a gun next to her head.
Craig stressed that the investigation into Steele “does not reflect on the vast majority of officers at the 6th Precinct.”