After an Alabama cop allegedly plotted to kill a Black man, he not only eluded criminal charges but also hung on to his job at the Alexander City Police Department, the Guardian reports. The revelation that a racist cop continues to patrol the streets is just the latest in a series of examples of how little accountability the police face.
The officer in question, Troy Middlebrooks, was caught on tape discussing his plans to murder Vincent Bias, a Black man he’d previously arrested. In May 2013, Middlebrooks, 33, arrived at Bias’ home after receiving a report of an unleashed dog on the property.
“A lawsuit from Bias that the city paid to settle before it reached court stated that while Bias remained inside the house and out of earshot, the officer remarked to Bias’ brother-in-law, who is white, that he was tired of ‘that n****r’ being released from jail,” the Guardian reports.
Still upset that Bias posted bail after he’d arrested him on drug charges earlier in the year, Middlebrooks allegedly cracked that the man “needs a g*ddamn bullet.” He also allegedly discussed plans to pull aside Bias during a traffic stop and kill him, making it look like self-defense.
Bias’s brother-in-law recorded the conversation because Bias had complained of ongoing police harassment. During the conversation, Middlebrooks also objected to how Bias treated the brother-in-law and other relatives.
“The way he f***ing talks to you? Like you’re a f***ing child? Like he’s your … Are you his b***h or something?” Middlebrooks said. He suggested that Bias’ family members should kill him and make it look like self-defense.
“I’m a lot different from a lot of these other folks,” Middlebrooks said. “I’ll f***ing tell you what’s on my f***ing mind.”
And that’s exactly what Middlebrooks did with no real repercussions. Alexander City Police Chief Willie Robinson told the Guardian that the officer had been disciplined after he and the mayor heard the recording, but Robinson did not provide specifics to the newspaper.
Middlebrooks claims that the State Bureau of Investigation has cleared him of wrongdoing, but the Guardian found no evidence that a case involving the officer went before the bureau. The city also avoided consequences for Middlebrook’s egregious conduct, paying Bias a mere $35,000 to dodge a lawsuit. If that weren’t enough, the police chief continues to defend Middlebrooks.
“He was just talking,” Robinson told the Guardian. “He didn’t really mean that.”
There’s no reason to believe Middlebrooks’ words were just talk, especially when he allegedly boasted on the tape that he stands out from his peers by telling it like it is. If brutal honesty is Middlebrooks’ defining trait, why should the public believe he didn’t really mean what he said about Bias?
Also, the fact that Middlebrooks objected to Bias behaving in an “uppity” manner towards his white brother-in-law is no joke but centuries-long tradition in the south. Historically, African Americans who didn’t behave meekly—whether failing to avert their eyes, step aside or disregard their rights during encounters with whites—have steadily faced violence. This situation is no different. Yet, Middlebrooks continues to patrol the streets and “protect and serve” Alexander City’s 15,000 residents, which includes African Americans among the population.
In fact, just a few months after he reportedly made his inflammatory remarks about Bias, the officer responded to a call involving a fellow police officer who’d killed an unarmed Black man. State investigators considered Middlebrooks’ testimony before opting not to fault his colleague in the fatal shooting.
Given that Middlebrooks has not suffered in any meaningful consequences for his alleged conduct, it’s hard to disagree with Bias’ assessment of the Alexander City police.
“This town is ridiculous,” the 59 year-old told the Guardian. “The police here feel they can do what they want, and often they do.”