White Detroit police officer demoted for Snapchat video taunting Black woman

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Gary Steele, the white Detroit police officer who caused an uproar when he posted a Snapchat video making fun of a Black woman who was seen walking in the cold after he impounded her car, has been demoted.

Detroit television station WXYZ first uncovered the video showing the woman walking away. Steele and another officer had pulled the woman over last Tuesday for driving on an expired registration. They impounded her car and she walked away after turning down an offer to be escorted home, according to Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

Craig said the issue wasn’t with the stop or tow, which he called lawful, but the Snapchat video which Steele captioned: “Celebrating Black History Month” and “What Black Girl Magic Looks Like.” On the video, officers can be heard commenting: “Priceless,” “Walk of shame,” “In the cold,” and “Bye, Felicia.”

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According to CBS News, Craig said his department launched an internal investigation that could result in the officer being suspended or terminated. While that is pending, Steele, an 18-year veteran, has been demoted from the rank of corporal and re-assigned from his precinct.

“I’m not going to tell you I’m troubled, I’m going to tell you I’m angry,” Craig told reporters at a news conference on Thursday, according to CBS News. “And I’m going to tell you why I’m angry — I’m angry because this was a racially insensitive post.”

WXYZ identified the woman in the video as Ariel Moore.

“I’ve never had this happen to me in my life, so I’m kind of shocked,” the young woman told WXYZ.

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Monique Mobley, Moore’s mother, said it was pure racism and slammed the officers in a WXYZ interview.

“What they put on there, that’s racist,” Mobley told the news station. “They demeaned my child for no reason.”

On behalf of the police department, Craig said he called Mobley to apologize. He said the department will pay the fees associated with the towing and impoundment.

Craig also referred to the officer’s “troubling history.” After news reports surfaced on past incidents with Steele, including a 2008 charge where he physically attacked his ex-girlfriend in Canton, firing a gun near her head, Craig said Steele’s past history illustrates a pattern.

In the earlier incident, Steele accepted a plea deal on a misdemeanor and was given probation, which enabled him to remain on the police force.

“I think after reviewing his history, there’s a pattern there, and I’m concerned about that pattern,” Craig told CBS News. “That’s something I’ll be looking into and addressing as well.”