WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After an internal investigation, the Wilmington Police Department has fired three veteran officers for “hate-filled speech” that was caught on a patrol car camera.
Police Chief Donny Williams, during a Wednesday afternoon news conference, identified the officers as Officer James Gilmore, Cpl. Jesse Moore II, and Officer Kevin Piner.
Williams said the investigation uncovered “extensive violations of the department’s manual of rules and policies which include the standard of conduct, criticism, and use of inappropriate language.”
The chief said the investigation began after a supervisor’s routine inspection of video from Piner’s in-car camera. A review of the footage showed two conversations between Piner and Gilmore, and Piner and Moore that contained “disrespectful language, hate-filled speech, and referring to black people as the ‘n-word.‘”
Results of the Wilmington Police Department’s internal investigation are below. WARNING: viewer discretion is advised.
According to the internal investigation documents provided by the WPD, in one of those conversations, Piner told Moore that he felt a civil war is coming and that he is “ready.” Piner mentioned to Moore that he was going to buy an assault rifle in a couple of weeks and that he felt martial law was coming.
“We are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them f****** n******. I can’t wait. God I can’t wait,” Piner stated, according to the documents. Moore responded that he would not do that, which Piner stated “I’m ready.”
Piner then explained to Moore, the documents state, that the country needed a civil war to “wipe ‘em off the f****** map. That’ll put ‘em back about four or five generations,” Piner stated. Moore responded, “you’re crazy.”
Other recorded conversations also criticized Chief Donny Williams, several Black officers within the WPD, individuals outside of the WPD, and made negative comments about the Black Lives Matter protests, and were critical of the police department’s response to those protests.
“[The conversations] were brutally offensive and deserved immediate attention,” Williams said. “When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.”
Williams said he will recommend the officers never be rehired by the city and will notify the N.C. Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission about their behavior.
“This is the most exceptional and difficult case I have encountered in my career,” Williams said. “We must establish new reforms for policing here at home and in the country.”
The Wilmington Police Department will also consult with the District Attorney’s Office regarding their suitability as a witness, any bias they may have shown towards criminal defendants, and potential criminal charges, Williams said.
Wilmington City Council voted on Wednesday in a special meeting to release the video after listening to the recordings earlier in the week.
“Council voted unanimously today to give it’s full concurrence to release personnel information that is normally confidential, but in this case it is essential for the public to know so that the public can maintain its confidence in the city and our police department,” said Mayor Bill Saffo.
Councilman Clifford Barnett said he was shocked when he heard the recordings, but believes the council, police department and Chief Williams did a great job of acting swiftly.
“We do understand that there are some negative thinking people who are in the police department,” said Barnett. “We understand that. What we hope to do and hopefully this will send that message: if you’re there, you’re going to get out.”