COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina police officer has been suspended after videos showing him saying a racial slur in a confrontation with people outside a bar were posted on social media.
Sgt. Chad Walker was on patrol in the Five Points area of Columbia around 11 p.m. Saturday when he entered a bar and “found several violations of the Governor’s Executive Order to stop the service and consumption of alcohol,” Columbia police said in a news release Sunday.
When Walker, who is white, “communicated the order with patrons and employees, a male is heard calling him a racial slur while leaving the establishment,” the release says. Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook plans to release the entire body camera video of the incident Sunday, the release says.
In videos posted on social media, a man is seen confronting the officer outside the bar, saying he’s “talking to these people of color as if they are less than human.” The officer then says a racial slur at least twice, saying that a Black man called him the slur. The Black man says he didn’t call the officer that word and the two argue about it, as three other officers look on.
“You got mad because I told you you couldn’t drink your drink so you called me that word,” the officer says.
After a woman leads the Black man away, the officer continues to yell at him and then argues with other people outside the bar.
The police department “sincerely apologizes for the inappropriate, disrespectful words, behavior and actions of Sgt. Walker,” the release says.
Shortly after the confrontation, Walker’s commanders “immediately recognized that inappropriate actions occurred” and began an internal investigation and body camera review, the release says. Walker, a 14-year veteran of the department, has been suspended without pay pending the outcome that review.
Holbrook said in the news release that he is “embarrassed and disappointed” in Walker’s actions. But he said he was encouraged to see that a junior officer intervened to remove Walker from the situation.
“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 in the release. “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.”