DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said they will not charge two former Detroit police officers accused of posting a racist Snapchat video.
WXYZ first broke the story in January. video posted to Snapchat showed a Detroit police traffic stop near Joy Road and Stout. In the video, the officer, identified as Corporal Gary Steele, makes a few condescending remarks toward 23-year-old Ariel Moore, an African American woman he instructed to walk home in below freezing weather. She was pulled over for having expired license tabs.
- Social media post shows Detroit officer making racist comments about African-American pulled over
- Detroit police officer accused of posting racist Snapchat video fired
- Second Detroit police officer involved in racist Snapchat post fired
After learning of the post, Craig said the incident would be investigated thoroughly. Fifty-five people were interviewed during the investigation.
In February, Steele was fired, and a few weeks later, a second officer involved in the case, Officer Michael Garrison, was also fired.
Steele and Garrison observed a vehicle speeding without proper license plate tabs riven by a 24-year-old Detroit woman, the prosecutor's office said. They signaled for her to pull over, and Garrison told her why and "maintained a professional demeanor throughout the interaction."
The prosecutor's office said Garrison issued the woman a ticket, and she became upset when she was told she couldn't drive the car home, but could stay inside until a tow truck came. According to the office, she declined to stay in the car and said she lived around the corner, and she was having a video chat with a riend who said she could pick her up, but she declined and walked from her car to her home.
According to the prosecutor's office, the incident was recorded on DPD's boyd cameras, and evidence showed "Steele and Garrison treated the citizen fairly during the official police interaction."
As the woman walked away, the prosecutor's office said Steele recorded her from his phone and put the video on Snapchat. It had a filter saying "Black Girl Magic," and it is alleged that Garrison can be heard in the background saying, "Walk of shame," and after she can't be seen, Steele is heard saying, "Bye Felisha."
A warrant request was submitted for Steele but not Garrison.
“A thorough and complete review of the allegations against former Detroit Police Department Corporal Gary Steele and Officer Michael Garrison shows reprehensible, disturbing and unprofessional conduct following a January 29, 2019 police stop of a 24-year-old woman," Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement. "However, we are charged with determining whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a crime. There is insufficient evidence to criminally charge either officer. The allegations reviewed could support other possible liability.”
According to the prosecutor, the case must be analyzed as a misconduct in office case. The prosecutor's office said that videotaping someone in public is lawful, and the First Amendment ensures that even hate speech is protected.
The prosecutor's office said that Stelle didn't create the video while exercising police duties or under color of office, and it was not taken using police custody. They said that the video was taken after, not during the time the woman was in custody, and there is insufficient evidence to show that during the interaction, he treated the woman unfairly.
"While the Snapchat Video and the comments made on it by Steele are abhorrent and unbecoming a law enforcement officer, it does not support a charge of misconduct in office. The alleged comment made by Garrison is also highly disturbing and unacceptable for a law enforcement officer. The alleged conduct is something that could support other possible liability," a statement read.