County Police Investigate Video of Officer Using 'N-Word'

County Police Investigate Video of Officer Using ‘N-Word’

Police release body camera recording of encounter, say social media video is 'disturbing and contrary to our department’s values'

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A county police officer shown in a video captured during an interaction at a Shell gas station in Silver Spring.

Via dmvhoodzandnewz on Instagram

Updated 10 a.m. Friday

Montgomery County police are expressing regret for a video posted on social media Thursday that included a white officer using a racial slur during an investigation of a report of men trespassing at a White Oak fast-food restaurant.

In a statement issued late Thursday night, the police said the matter was “contrary to our department’s values” and stated regret for “the disturbing nature of this video.”

The video, widely shared on social media and aired on evening television newscasts, is about 22 seconds long and pans the scene as two male officers write paperwork while a female officer looks on.

The man recording the video comments about how long the officers are taking, prompting a response from the female officer that was captured on the recording: “Hey, you want to get out of here fast, right? So if we have more people, y’all niggas been trying to [sic] something,” she says.

There is then a clear cut in the wobbly video, apparently taken by a cellphone camera. When it continues, the man refers to the uniformed officer as a “racist-ass bitch,” and she responds, “Uh, nope that’s a quote.”

She then shrugs and waves toward the man.

“I bet if she ain’t have that badge on she wouldn’t call us no niggas,” the man says.

It was unclear if the video had been edited or the recording paused during the encounter outside a McDonald’s restaurant and Shell gas station on New Hampshire Avenue in the White Oak area. Police had been called for a report of trespassers.

Late Thursday night police released 12 1/2 minutes of footage from one of the officer’s body cameras that captured parts of the encounter from a different vantage point.

(Note: Video linked below contains language that some viewers may consider offensive)

The department also released a statement that it “takes all allegations of racial discrimination seriously.”

The statement did not contain a direct apology.

“The matter brought to our attention today is disturbing and contrary to our department’s values and our overarching mission to fairly and impartially serve our community,” the statement said.  “The statements observed on the social media video clip are contrary to our extensive training curriculum that include implicit bias training and other training programs to ensure fair, unbiased, and non-discriminatory policing in our community.”

The statement said an internal affairs investigation was being conducted and that “appropriate actions shall be taken in conformance with applicable laws and policy.”

“We sincerely regret the disturbing nature of this video. We understand the pain such language causes the entire community.  Our commitment to having open and honest communication with the community and providing transparent police service persists. As part of our commitment to accountability and transparency, we are releasing both the social media video and the body worn camera footage of the involved officer for all to view,” the statement said.

At the end of the body camera video released by the police, the female officer was heard bantering with the men and she said, “what I’m doing is repeating your words.”

The initial online posting brought a rapid response from two County Council members who asked for an immediate police investigation.

“At NO time should anyone feel comfortable using the N-word,” council member Craig Rice said in an afternoon posting on social media.

Will Jawando, a council member who successfully sponsored legislation requiring greater oversight into police-involved shootings, responded to the post by calling the incident “completely unacceptable.”

Minutes before the police department released its statement Thursday night, County Executive Marc Elrich issued a statement after watching the video.

“There are no circumstances that justify what the officer said,” Elrich said. “Every time something like this happens it hurts the reputation of all officers; and it works against efforts to build trust in the community.”

Elrich said he spoke with the county’s acting police chief “and he recognizes the seriousness of this.”

In an interview earlier Thursday,  Jawando said he was disgusted after watching the video, which he learned about through social media posts by constituents. Jawando said he then contacted Assistant Police Chief Marcus Jones, who he said assured him that the department would investigate the matter.

“I also urged them to look into why these two young people were stopped in the first place,” the council member said.

Jawando said Jones told him the police would release the full body camera footage.

“I want (police) to do their investigation, but at the minimum, there needs to be some disciplinary action,” Jawando said.

(Note: Video linked below contains language that some viewers may consider offensive)

 

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Police spokesman Rick Goodale said the department is checking with the county attorney’s office to see whether the names of the officers can be released.

The video’s release comes days after a black man and woman filed a lawsuit against the county alleging racial profiling and illegal detainment after a traffic stop in 2016.

The County Council this week passed a bill designed to bring in an outside investigator to look into police shootings following the 2018 fatal shooting of a black man in Silver Spring.

The county’s police reform efforts, Jawando said, should also extend to changing the culture of the police department.

“We need to look at why we are policing people this way and what the pretexts are for this stop. Why are we issuing so many citations? We need to dig into the reasons why this happened, but also the larger question of why this officer was comfortable saying this,” Jawando said.

Montgomery County’s longtime police chief retired in April and the county has started a search for a replacement.

Bethesda Beat Staff Writer Dan Schere contributed to this report.

This story is developing and was updated at 10:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. to include portions of a statement from county police and County Executive Marc Elrich.

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