A white police officer in Detroit has been stripped of his rank as an investigation into a racist post he made mocking a Black woman gets underway.
The officer, Gary Steele, and his partner pulled over 24-year-old Ariel Moore on Tuesday night after they discovered her vehicle had expired license plate tabs, The Detroit Metro Times reports.
The officers decided the vehicle needed to be towed due to its plate problem, leaving Moore without transportation.
The Daily Beast reports bodycam footage shows the officers offered Moore a ride home; however, given she wasn’t far from where she lived, the 24-year-old decided to brave the Michigan winter and walk the rest of the way.
Steele felt it would be a good idea to document her trip on Snapchat.
The officers followed the young woman, filming her as she made her way through the snow and below-freezing weather, all while using filters meant to honor Black history to mock Moore.
Over clips emblazoned with the “Celebrate Black History Month" filter and a filter that read "What Black Girl Magic Looks Like," Steele and his partner laughingly call the difficult trek “priceless,” a “walk of shame” and end their broadcast by saying, “Bye, Felicia.”
Citizens expressed outrage when the footage became public, as did Detroit’s Police Chief James Craig.
On Thursday afternoon, Craig addressed the press about the posts and said, “I’m not troubled. I’m not disappointed. I’m angry. I'm angry because this was a racially insensitive post."
The chief called Steele’s post a “bad decision” that showed little regard for a citizen’s wellbeing.
“She’s walking on a very cold night,” Craig said. “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.”
Moore said she’s overwhelmed by the video.
“I’ve never had this happen to me in my life. I’m kind of shocked — I don’t really know how to feel right now,” the 24-year-old said. “I’m still trying to take it in.”
Monique Mobley, Moore’s mother, told WXYZ she knows exactly how to feel.
“What they put on there, that’s racist,” Mobley said. “They demeaned my child for no reason.”
As News 5 Cleveland notes, this incident isn’t Steele’s first brush with controversy.
In 2008, the officer was living in Canton, Michigan, and was charged with assault after firing a gun near his ex-girlfriend’s head. He pleaded guilty but served no time behind bars; instead, he was put on probation and continued his work as a police officer.
Responding to a question about this history, Craig suggested Steele wouldn’t still be on the force had the incident happened while he held the top job.
“I will tell you there would have been a different outcome had I been chief during those years,” Craig said. “His history is troubling. There’s a pattern, and I’m concerned about that pattern. So that’s something I’ll be looking at and addressing.”
Steele, who was a corporal before his snaps became public, has been stripped of his rank.
While the Detroit Police Department still employs him, Steele will not be allowed to have any interaction with the citizens he’s sworn to serve and protect until the investigation is over. It is not yet clear whether his partner will face any consequences for his role in the posts.
Blavitize your inbox! Join our daily newsletter for fresh stories and breaking news.
Now, check these out: