Three veteran North Carolina police officers have been fired after a video recording caught them making racist, violent remarks about Black people, including several of their colleagues, and repeatedly using the n-word.
Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams said in a statement that officers James Gilmore and Kevin Piner, and Cpl. Jesse Moore II were terminated Tuesday after an internal investigation found "extensive violations" of the department's standard of conduct.
The recording was made from Piner's in-car camera that was accidentally activated, according to documents released by the department.
In the video, Piner tells Moore on the phone that he feels a civil war coming on, and that he's "ready" and planning to buy an assault rifle in the next few weeks. (North Carolina has no laws prohibiting assault weapons.) He also says society is being close to "martial law" and that soon "we are gonna go out and start slaughtering them fucking niggers. I can't wait."
He then says a civil war is needed "to wipe 'em off the fucking map. That'll put 'em back about four or five generations."
Moore also tells Piner about a Black woman he arrested, whom he repeatedly calls a "negro," "nigger," and "crazy bitch." He says the woman "needed a bullet in the head right then and move on. Let's move the body out of the way and keep going."
Moore also calls a Black magistrate, who had asked if he considered pursuing involuntary commitment papers for the woman rather than arrest her because of substance abuse, "a fucking negro magistrate," and expressed anger that he had questioned Moore.
"God has a special place for people like that, I hope they burn in hell man... hate 'em. It's bad, man, because not all Black people are like that," Moore says.
"Most of 'em," Piner replies.
"Ninety percent of 'em, Kevin. Ninety fucking percent of them," Moore says.
Moore later calls the magistrate a "pussy" for his suggestion, and Piner responds, "No, he's Black."
Piner also refers to a fellow officer, who is Black, as "bad news" and says, "let's see how his boys take care of him when shit gets rough, see if they don't put a bullet in his head."
Piner has been with the Wilmington Police Department since 1998, and Moore since 1997.
The video also shows Piner and Gilmore, who appears to pull up in a car next to Piner, talking about the nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality. Gilmore says he watched a video online of white people bowing down on their knees and "worshipping blacks."
"How many times have I told you it's almost like they think they have their own God," Gilmore says, before telling Piner about another video of a "fine-looking white girl and this punk little pretty boy bowing down and kissing their toes."
Gilmore has been a Wilmington police officer since 1997.
The department did not make the video recording available to the public — only a transcript was included in the documents related to the internal investigation.
All three officers denied being racist to investigators, and Gilmore said he treats people fairly regardless of race. They all said they were stressed out by "today's climate in law enforcement."
Moore told the sergeants conducting the investigation that he wanted the record to show that he was off duty and at home, making a call to his friend on his personal phone to "vent" about the arrest. He said he was stressed out over the recent protests and embarrassed by his comments, and "doesn't normally speak like that."
Piner also said that he was feeling stress over the protests and concerned for his family's safety.
"He stated that the majority of people he was dealing when he worked the protests were African American," the document states. He also told investigators he was at a "breaking point" and had reached out to the department's Employees Assistance Program.
As protests against police killings of unarmed Black people continue across the country, tensions between law enforcement and the public have skyrocketed.
Officers have often escalated those tensions both during the protests and in the wider public sphere, with police unions falsely accusing hourly wage service workers of trying to poison officers. And in Georgia, a sheriff's deputy who recorded herself breaking down after waiting for her drive-thru McDonald's order was widely mocked for suggesting that her Egg McMuffin was being tampered with, leading to her responding that officers feel the fear of "always looking, we’re arching our necks, to make sure everything is safe not just for you, but for everyone else."
Just this week, Williams, who is Black and was also targeted by the officers in their recorded conversations, had secured the position of Wilmington police chief after serving on an interim basis since January.
In his press conference announcing the firings of Piner, Moore, and Gilmore, he said he has recommended that none of them be eligible for rehire "in any position with the city of Wilmington."
The department will notify the state's Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission, which determines whether officers can keep their state certification, of the men's conduct, and speak to the district attorney about whether they are suited to be witnesses in criminal cases.
"There are certain behaviors that one must have in order to be a police officer and these three officers have demonstrated that they do not possess it," Williams said. "There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city, and it will not be tolerated."