A recently surfaced video shows a Columbia Police officer repeatedly using the N-word during a racial dispute outside of a South Carolina bar on Saturday night. The officer has been suspended from the department without pay.
The video begins with one civilian stating that their issue with the officer, who is white, is that the officer is talking to people of color outside of the bar as if they're "less than human." To which the officer responds, "that gentleman right there that just called me a n****r?" He repeats the racial slur multiple times throughout the recorded clip, pointing at the Black man who he accused of using the racial slur toward him first.
According to the Washington Post, the officer was sent to the bar in order to enforce an 11pm stop time for alcohol serving put in place by the government in an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus throughout the state.
He had allegedly ordered several patrons at the bar to discard their drinks or be arrested. The video picks up shortly after the accusation, outside of the bar.
Onlookers reacted with outrage to the officer's statement, with one asking the cop "Are you serious?" and another pleading "Can you stop saying that word, please?"
The Black man responds by denying the claims, saying "actually, I never called you that... no, I did not."
The situation continues to escalate after the officer insinuates that the Black man can be heard using the N-word via the officer's bodycam footage. The back and forth continues as the cop says "All you're doing is calling me ignorant. That's what that word means... actually if you look in the dictionary, it does mean that... yeah, you know, the book that you open and read? That thing."
The cop continues to perpetuate the ongoing argument saying, "When I was called that, I can say it back... He can say it to me, but I can't say it to him? Who cares what color I am?"
As the incident goes on, eventually another officer steps in, turning the cop away from the exasperated crowd in order to diffuse the situation.
Following the video's spread on social media, the Columbia police department has stepped in to remediate the officer's behavior and "continue to work to earn the trust of the community that it serves."
According to a Sunday report from the Columbia police department, the officer now identified as 14-year veteran Sgt. Chad Walker has been suspended without pay as an internal disciplinary review ensues. The investigation will include a review of body camera footage and review by a disciplinary board, as well as the public release of the footage, states the report.
Columbia Police Chief W. H. "Skip" Holbrook says that he shares disappointment and outrage with the public following the incident, calling it "highly offensive, and disrespectful" in a statement.
"After reviewing the video from last night in Five Points, it is evident the actions of Sgt. Walker were a clear failure to fulfill the expectations and standards of our Department," he said. "The repetition of the racial slur and failure to deescalate the situation were inexcusable. Our officers are trained to serve as leaders and to deescalate confrontations of potentially volatile situations."