A Columbia police officer has been suspended without pay after a viral video shows him using a racial slur while confronting an African-American man, according to the Columbia Police Department.
The incident took place on Saturday when police officers patrolling in Five Points, found a bar that was violating the governor's executive order, which requires restaurants and bars to stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. to contain the spread of coronavirus across the state.
'He Called Me a N*gger'
The video, shared on Twitter, shows a man arguing with the police officer, identified as Sgt. Chad Walker, over his behavior towards "people of color" outside the establishment.
"My issue is that you're talking to these people of color as if they're less human," the man says. Walker replies that the above-mentioned person of color called him a "n*gger."
"People of color?! The gentleman right there that called me a n*gger?," Walker says repeatedly as an onlooker can be heard saying, "Are you serious?!"
The black man then tells Walker that he did not call him the N-word, to which he responds that he has the incident recorded on his bodycam. The man reportedly said the word after law enforcement told him he couldn't "drink his drink."
"He can say it to me but I can't say it so him?" Walker asks. "You're white!," one of the patrons tells the officer. "Who cares what color I am? He called me a word," Walker says, to which an onlooker replies, "It's a racist word!"
After several minutes, the situation ends with the help of another officer and a woman outside the bar who worked to calm things down. Watch the video below:
Suspension Without Pay
Not long after the video went viral, the Columbia police department released a statement saying that Walker was called the racial slur by a patron while enforcing the governor's executive order and in order to be "transparent" Chief W. H. Holbrook has also released bodycam footage of the incident.
However, the department said it"sincerely apologizes for the inappropriate, disrespectful words, behavior and actions of Sgt. Walker." Chief Holbrook said Walker had been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which is standard protocol with such incidents.
"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," Holbrook 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."
Watch the full bodycam footage below: