A cop in Detroit is being investigated following outcry over posting an allegedly racist Snapchat video of a black woman that he had previously pulled over and sanctioned for a traffic violation.
According to WXYZ, Officer Gary Steele has been reassigned pending the results of the Detroit Police Department’s internal affairs investigation. The department confirmed on Tuesday that the footage was, in fact, filmed and posted by Officer Steele.
In the video, Steele and his partner trade insults:
Priceless! See if she gestures one more time. Priceless. Priceless. Walk of shame. In the cold. Bye, Felicia.
That final sentence is a phrase originating from the classic 1995 film “Friday.” According to the film’s screenwriter, Ice Cube, “Bye, Felicia” is a “phrase ‘to get anyone out of your face’.” The phrase has since attained a somewhat rougher connotation in the American lexicon and is generally considered a form of disparagement and dismissal.
WXYZ notes that Officer Steele pulled over Ariel Moore for an expired registration tab; he then proceeded to seize her vehicle. She declined a ride from police and walked home on the night in question–during the polar vortex.
Moore can be seen walking away in the footage–captioned with Snapchat stickers that read “What Black Girl Magic Looks Like” and “Celebrating Black History Month.”
“I’ve never had this happen to me in my life,” Moore told the outlet. “I’m kind of shocked–I don’t really know how to feel right now. I’m still trying to take it in.”
Moore’s mother was a bit more direct in her criticism of the video.
“What they put on there, that’s racist,” Monique Mobley told WXYZ. “They’re demeaning my child for no reason.”
Detroit Police Chief James Craig didn’t hold back during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m not troubled. I’m not disappointed. I’m angry,” Craig said. “I’m angry because this was a racially insensitive post.”
Craig indicated that Steele’s use of the “Bye, Felicia” phrase was “derogatory” and called the reference to Black History Month “problematic.”
The police chief continued:
On top of that, she’s walking on a very cold night. It’s dark, and, in my view, she’s in harm’s way. It could’ve been my daughter, my sister. It doesn’t matter, it could have been anyone.
The Detroit Police Department has since released Moore’s car back to her and waived the city’s customary towing fees.
According to ClickOnDetroit, Steele has been reassigned from his precinct and demoted.
“He has a troubling history,” Craig added in reference to Steele’s 2008 arrest following an attack on his girlfriend in which he accepted a plea deal. “His departmental history predates my appointment. It would have been a different outcome if I had been chief.”
Craig noted that Steele has been on the force for nearly 19 years and often trains other police officers.
“He has a troubling history,” Craig reiterated. “When I look at his background and the seriousness of what he was charged with, my question is, ‘What did the department do?’ I can’t go back in time and address that issue. It’s my issue now, but it does raise a lot of questions for me, especially when you look at his prior conduct. I think after reviewing his history, without going into details of that at this point, there is a pattern, and I’m concerned about that pattern. That’s something I’ll be looking at and addressing, as well.”
[image via screengrab/Detroit Police Department/WXYZ]