Local News

After call for race war caught on tape, 3 Wilmington police officers fired

Posted June 24, 2020 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2020 2:23 p.m. EDT

— Three members of a North Carolina police department have been fired after a department audit of a video recording captured one of the officers saying a civil war was necessary to wipe Black people off the map and that he was ready.

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. Each was accused of violating standards of conduct, criticism and use of inappropriate jokes and slurs.

“When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened and disgusted,” Williams said. "There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.”

Williams said their terminations were a result of an internal investigation that 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.‘”

READ MORE: WECT: Wilmington Police Dept. terminates 3 veteran officers for ‘hate-filled speech’ caught on patrol car video

After the sergeant listened to the conversation and determined comments made by Piner and Moore were “extremely racist,” she contacted the department administrator for the camera system.

At the 46-minute mark of the video, Piner and Gilmore began talking from their respective cars, at which time Piner criticized the department, saying its only concern was “kneeling down with the black folks.” About 30 minutes later, Piner received a phone call from Moore, according to the investigation, a segment in which Moore referred to a Black female as a “negro." He also referred to the woman by using a racial slur. He repeated the use of the slur in describing a Black magistrate, and Moore used a gay slur to describe the magistrate as well.

Later, according to the investigation, Piner told Moore that he feels a civil war is coming and that he is ready. Piner said he was going to buy a new assault rifle, and soon “we are just going to go out and start slaughtering them (expletive)” Blacks. “I can't wait. God, I can't wait.” Moore responded that he wouldn't do that.

Piner then told Moore that he felt a civil war was needed to “wipe them off the (expletive) map. That'll put them back about four or five generations.” Moore told Piner he was “crazy,” and the recording stopped a short time later.

According to police, the officers admitted it was their voices on the video and didn't deny any of the content. While the officers denied that they were racists, they blamed their comments on the stress on law enforcement in light of the protests over the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a Black man, died last month after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

In addition to being fired, cases involving the Wilmington officers will be reviewed by the district attorney's office to determine if they committed any crimes or showed bias toward criminal defendants. Williams said he will recommend the three officers not be rehired by notifying the N.C. Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission about their behavior.

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