A Detroit police officer is under investigation after he filmed himself making racist remarks about a young Black woman he forced to walk home in dangerously freezing temperatures after a traffic stop earlier this week.
Officer Gary Steele posted video to social media site Snapchat on Tuesday, taunting the woman after calling for her car to be towed. leaving her to walk herself home. Video obtained by station WXYZ Detroit showed the young woman’s car stopped on the side of a snowy roadway as she wanders alone in the dark.
Steele reportedly pulled the woman over for driving with expired license plate tags.
At the time, temperatures were below freezing, as the city found itself in the midst of a polar vortex impacting much of the U.S. Midwest. At least 21 deaths are believed to be related to the bitter weather system, The New York Times reported.
In the video, Steele is heard making snide remarks about the woman, identified as Ariel Moore, as she walks from the scene.
“Walk of shame, in the cold, priceless,” a person in the video says, using the “Celebrate Black History Month” filter and the caption “What Black Girl Magic Looks Like.”
The officer then signs off with a “Bye, Felicia!” to end the clip.
Moore’s mother, Monique Mobley, expressed outrage after watching the video.
“What they put on there, that’s racist,” Mobley told WXYZ. “They demeaned by child for no reason.”
Moore also spoke out, saying “I’ve never had this happen to me. I’m kind of shocked. I don’t really know how to feel right now.”
The Detroit Police Department confirmed that Steele has been placed on restrictive duty as they complete an internal investigation into the matter. At a press conference on Thursday, police Chief James Craig called the social media video “troubling,” but said footage from the officer’s body camera shows Moore was offered a ride home, but refused.
“I’m angry,” he said, Click on Detroit reported. “This incident is absolutely not reflective (of the department). This is not acceptable.”
The police chief also pointed to Steele’s troubling history with the department. In 2008, the officer was charged after physically attacking his ex-girlfriend and firing a gun next to her head. He accepted a misdemeanor plea deal for probation in the incident and was allowed to stay on the force.
“When I look at his background and the seriousness of what he was charged with, my question is, ‘What did the department do?'” said Craig, noting that Steele was hired before his tenure. “I can’t go back in time and address that issue. It’s my issue now, but it does raise a lot of questions for me, especially when you look at his prior conduct.”
Steele has since been demoted to the rank of corporal, according to the police chief. Additionally, Craig said he’s reached out to Moore and her mother to apologize for how the young woman was treated.
“That could have been my daughter,” Craig said. “It could have been my sister. It doesn’t matter. It could have been anyone’s sister. Not acceptable.”
Watch more in the video below.