Georgia officer admits to using ‘derogatory racial term’ 10 years ago, gets suspended

Maj. Patrick Bonito acknowledged that when he was a sergeant, he made a statement that included an inappropriate racial term "not directed toward any employee."

A Georgia police officer who acknowledged using an “inappropriate derogatory racial term” a decade ago was suspended on Thursday.

Maj. Patrick Bonito was the subject of a lengthy internal inquiry after allegations against him by two officers who were not working for the Marietta Police Department when he made the comment, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“A grievance was filed by two officers roughly one month ago,” Marietta Police Chief Martin Ferrell said in a statement, according to The AJC, “including expressed or implied racism from Major Bonito toward Black officers under his command.”

Marietta officer Patrick Bonito
Veteran Marietta Police officer Maj. Patrick Bonito admitted to using a racial term 10 years, but says his remarks were not directed at any specific staffer. (Photo: Screenshot/ 5 Atlanta)

Officials questioned several employees as part of a weeks-long investigation of Bonito, who joined the force 27 years ago and was promoted to major in the fall of 2022. However, there was no evidence of inappropriate behavior or derogatory remarks toward staff.

Chief Ferrell claimed that Bonito ultimately acknowledged that, around 10 years ago, when he was a sergeant, he used a phrase that included an “inappropriate derogatory racial term,” which was “not directed toward any employee.” He reportedly acknowledged talking to co-workers about the incident years ago and expressing regret.

As a result, according to Ferrell, Bonito was demoted from several leadership roles, reassigned to a different shift, plus suspended for 40 hours without pay. He will also be required to attend several training sessions to address the findings of the internal probe.

The chief expressed gratitude to the officers who reported Bonito’s violation.

“Make no mistake, racism will not be tolerated by our agency, internally or externally,” Ferrell said, WSB-TV reported. “The Marietta Police Department takes allegations like this very seriously, and we appreciate the officers who brought forward their concerns.”

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