Report: Ousted police chief recorded boasting that he ‘shot that n—– 119 times’
Sam Dobbins was fired after being surreptitiously recorded by Robert Lee Hooker, a Black officer in the Lexington, Mississippi, police department.
The chief of police in the small town of Lexington, Mississippi, has been fired after his slur-saturated bragging about killing 13 people in the line of duty — including one Black man he claimed he shot 119 times.
Sam Dobbins was surreptitiously recorded by Robert Lee Hooker, a Black officer in the Lexington Police Department who resigned earlier this year only days after joining the department due to the toxic work environment. Upon entering, Hooker immediately noticed Dobbins’ discriminatory language, including claiming to brutalize African Americans. After departing, Hooker rejoined the force, planning to record his supervising officer with the intention of bringing light to bias within the Mississippi Delta town’s police force.
The April 11 tape was first made public Tuesday by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. On it, Dobbins can be heard saying, “I shot that n—– 119 times, OK?”
He is also heard using slurs toward gays and telling another officer, “I don’t give a f— if you kill a motherf—er in cold blood.”
When contacted for comment, Dobbins said he was not aware of the recording. When asked about killing people in the line of duty, he said, “That’s something we don’t discuss, period.” He also denied using slurs, saying, “I don’t talk like that.”
But Wednesday, a day after the MCIR report, Dobbins was fired effective immediately after a 3-2 vote by the Lexington Board of Aldermen in the town of 1,600, 80% of whom are Black, according to The Washington Post. Black alderman Charles Simmons and Richard Spencer, the town’s former mayor, were the two who voted to retain him.
“Once we heard it, I was just appalled and angry,” Cardell Wright, paralegal for international civil rights organization JULIAN and president of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, told The Post. “Just to see the hatred in your own backyard was disturbing. We knew we had to do something immediately.”
JULIAN obtained the tape from Hooker. The organization’s founder president, Jill Collen Jefferson, who identified Dobbins’ voice, said in a statement to The Post “the corruption we’re seeing here is on a scale I haven’t seen since the civil rights movement.”
“This audio is damning,” Jefferson maintained. “It’s not just a reflection of one officer. It’s a reflection of an entire culture of policing, and it should spur Congress to finally rein in this modern-day slave patrol. A culture like this does not deserve immunity.”
The report also notes that the small department is known for harassing members of the Lexington community, including breaking their windows and forcing their way into homes.
Hooker resigned from the Lexington Police Department last month.
According to The Post, Dobbins’ firing comes at a time when many are examining the viability of police forces in small towns in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting debacle in May. Police departments with less than 10 officers make up nearly half of America’s local police departments, the report says.
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