Local News

Wilmington DA will not charge officers caught on tape making violent, racist remarks

Posted July 2, 2020 3:48 p.m. EDT

— In a letter to Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams on Thursday, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said his office would not be filing criminal charges against three former officers who were fired after they were recorded making racist and violent remarks about black people. David has, however, called for a federal investigation into the officers hate-filled speech.

“Federal law may provide a remedy that is not available under state law,” David wrote in the letter.

Officer James Gilmore, Cpl. Jesse Moore II and Officer Kevin Piner are each accused of violating standards of conduct, criticism and use of inappropriate jokes and slurs.

Police Chief Donny Williams 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

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.

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