An officer in Richmond, Va., must undergo remedial training after he was caught on video harassing and using foul language against a group of Black middle school students.
The Richmond Police Department launched an internal investigation after video of the officer telling the girls “Wait until your asses turn 18, then you’re mine!” during the March 28 encounter outside Albert Middle School. Student Cameron Hilliard, 13, recorded the incident, which unfolded after the officer allegedly heard someone curse the police.
In a statement, interim police Chief William C. Smith apologized to the citizens of Richmond, as well as to the students involved and their parents.
“His actions do not reflect the values, training, or policies of the department,” Smith said last week.
According to the chief, the department concluded its probe of the clip and issued a disciplinary recommendation for the cop, who remains unnamed but has been identified as white. The officer has since been reassigned to another area of the city to avoid any appearance of violence or retaliation within the community, Smith said.
In his 15-year tenure, the officer in question has only received one complaint prior to last month’s incident, Smith said, adding that the officer was remorseful for his behavior.
“He voluntarily requested to be given the opportunity to speak to and apologize to the parents,” Smith said in a statement. “While these facts don’t minimize the incident, they do give you totality of the person.”
Keisha Curry, whose daughter Cameron had captured the incident, was unimpressed with chief’s response, however, and criticized the department’s decision not to release the cop’s name.
“Not letting the public know who the officer is doesn’t allow any other individuals the opportunity to speak out if they were mistreated by him before,” Curry told NBC News on Sunday. “Everyone knows we didn’t want him fired based on this encounter, but how can this behavior be fully investigated by only doing an internal investigation, when the verbal threat was done in the community?”
Recalling the incident, 13-year-old Hilliard said someone blurted had out an expletive about the police as she walked to an after-school activity with friends. The flippant remark caught the attention of the Richmond officer, who put his patrol car in reverse and demanded the girls “man up” and confess which one of them had said it.
“We were like, ‘what are you talking about because we didn’t say that.’ We were telling him we didn’t say that,” Hilliard said. “Somebody said a curse word to ‘f–k the police’ but it wasn’t me or my friends.”
The officer wasn’t buying it, however, and a brief back-and-forth ensued. In the clip, one of Hilliard’s friends tells the officer: “Even if we did say it, that’s our choice of words.”
“Wait till your asses turn 18; then you’re mine,” the officer shoots back before speeding off.
Hilliard’s mother said she did not think the officer should lose his job over the incident, but instead needed additional training and to spend “a little time with some youth.” She added that she was still willing to meet with the officer.
For Smith, the disciplinary action and training provided to the officer should serve as a clear message of what is expected of all members of the Richmond police force.
“The Richmond Police Department is a community policing organization founded on transparency, accountability, and integrity,” he said. “I will tell you when we get things right, and I will, as today, tell you when we get things wrong.”