Detroit officers who posted stop on social media suspended

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News


Two Detroit police officers recorded in a traffic stop using racially charged comments have been suspended following a probe, police Chief James Craig said Monday.

“When we look at a police officer engaging in this kind of behavior, this is not our expectation,” he said during a news conference at Detroit Police Department headquarters. “...It is important for us to swift action in dealing with this kind of behavior."

Officer Gary Steele pulled over Ariel Moore near Joy Road and Stout Street on the city's west side Tuesday for an expired license registration and impounded her vehicle. He watched as Moore, who declined a ride from the officers, walked a block to her home and awaited a tow truck.

Video posted to Steele's Snapchat obtained by WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) shows Moore walking home as he says "priceless" and "bye Felicia" with caption tags that read, "What black girl magic looks like," and "celebrating Black History Month." 

His partner from the department's Sixth Precinct, who has not been identified, was in the vehicle and recorded saying "walk of shame." 

The investigation of the officers, who have been suspended with pay, includes determining whether there was a pattern of behavior and if Steele posted a similar Snapchat video in December 2017, Craig said. 

"The statements that you saw in the video reflects some other contacts that Officer Steele and his partner had at different times, comments about (a) walk of shame, and certainly some derogatory remarks as it relates to both African-American men and African-American women," the chief said.

Meanwhile, following alleged “cultural issues” at the Sixth Precinct, where the officers were assigned, and concerns raised by colleagues, the department also is conducting an audit.

“While our focus is on these officers, we certainly want to root out any such behavior,” Craig said.

Craig last week said Steele, who has been with the department for 18 years and worked to train other officers, had been reassigned and demoted from his rank as corporal.

The department also paid for Moore to remove her vehicle from the tow yard, and Craig reached out to the woman's family.

"We believe that the way that young lady was treated was inappropriate," he said Monday. 

Referencing the department's social media policy, and the firing last year of another officer who posted controversial content, Craig noted that law enforcement personnel are held to a higher measure than others online.

"Because we’re held to a higher standard, if you show a bias in a post of some sort, how can you effectively go out and provide policing to a community?" he said.