Detroit police terminate white officer following racist Snapchat video

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click to enlarge Detroit police terminate white officer following racist Snapchat video
Steve Neavling

Detroit Police Chief James Craig held a press conference Wednesday announcing the termination of Corporal Gary Steele following a racially charged Snapchat post obtained by WXYZ-TV last month.

The department launched an internal investigation on Feb. 1, just two days after obtaining the video. Both Steele and his partner Michael Garrison, who can also be heard offering insensitive commentary during the video, were suspended with pay on Feb. 4. It was decided during yesterday's hearing that Steele, who served as a police officer for 18 years and most recently served Detroit's Sixth Precinct, would be terminated, though it was not specified if it would affect his pension.

Steele shared a video after stopping 23-year-old Ariel Moore for an expired license plate tag on Jan. 29. The video, which was posted on Steele's personal Snapchat account, followed Moore as she walked home in frigid temperatures and included in-app captions, "What black girl magic looks like" and "Celebrating Black History Month." Verbal comments such as "Bye Felicia" and "walk of shame" could be heard in the video.

At least 55 sworn in officers and several community members were interviewed during the investigation and resulted in a 142-page report. Filed in the report,  24 individual allegations against Steele, 11 of which were sustained by internal affairs. In addition to the Snapchat video, Chief Craig explained that the allegations spanned improper characterizations of African Americans as well as using the terms "Kieshas," "Jakes," and "homeys," in racially disparaging contexts on at least two occasions. Steele also knowingly lied during the investigation.

Steele's investigation is one of two ordered by Craig following the release of the video. Craig has also issued an environmental audit of the sixth precinct's management-level staff as well as supervisors and serving officers to determine if racial misconduct goes beyond the behavior exhibited by both Steele and Garrison.

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