A Pennsylvania cop is under fire after a video clip of him allegedly racially profiling a young Black man at a local diner went viral. The law enforcement officer also appeared to show signs of being drunk at the time of the incident.
The confrontation took place at G&G Restaurant in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, April 17, when authorities responded to a call that someone was smoking marijuana outside the establishment.
The exchange was captured by the alleged victim, Marcus Townsend. In the clip, Vandergrift Police Department officer William Moore, a white man, told Townsend that he was there for him.
“Well, I’m telling you that I got called here for you,” Moore told Townsend. When the 20-year-old asked what he did, Moore proceeded to ask him for proof of identification. “I don’t have to give you I.D.,” Townsend replied.
Moore then called for backup on his walkie-talkie when Townsend said, “please bring your superior here, sir.” And with a slurred tone, Moore said, “I am your superior.” The officer appeared to struggle with getting out his next sentence: “I am superior officer… My badge number’s 4 … you understand that.” Townsend calmly replied, “Yes, sir.”
The two men went back and forth as Townsend asked “what crimes did I commit,” and refused to show his I.D. Growing visibly impatient, Moore then ordered Townsend to go outside. “That’s not fair.. that’s not right,” Townsend expressed.
The screen then went dark, but when it resumed, Townsend conceded and gave Moore his I.D. He could be heard saying, “Racial profiling, man.” Moore mimics Townsend saying, “Oh yeah… it’s racial profile.” He then called on his walkie-talkie to have someone run Townsend’s license, but struggled to give the correct numbers. “I’m sorry. 3-2-4-3-1-2-7-2 run that please because this guy’s uh saying that I’m racial profiling him,” Moore said. “Definitely.”
Townsend interjected. Moore responded, “Oh yeah, cause I just don’t like Black people. Yeah, I don’t like Black people.” He continued to shout into the camera, “It’s like that out here. Everybody who knows me knows that I don’t care whether you’re white, brown, or tan.” Townsend then asked the officer if he was drunk based on his mannerisms, “are you drunk, sir? Why you looking like that?.” Moore said his behavior had to do with him being “tired” of the young man’s attitude.
The camera cut, and Townsend, Moore, and another office reappeared, now standing outside, and the young man continued to ask why he’s being asked for his identification and to stay outside. When Moore checked in to see if anything could be pulled up on Townsend, he was told negative. He then asked for criminal history, and the clip cut off.
The video was viewed well over one million times and sparked outraged by people who accused Moore of being drunk on the job based on his conduct and speech. Public figure Michael Maloney posted on Twitter, “I hope the Borough of Vandergrift, PA permanently removes this drunk and racist police officer from the force. Seems like HE is the only one in this situation with a criminal record.”
During an interview with WTAE-TV, Townsend said that he was initially at the diner with his girlfriend and their service dog. He claimed that Moore had first approached them about the dog. “He had just come in and had a problem with the dog at first. He didn’t want the dog in there. He wanted to see service papers,” Townsend told the outlet. “We don’t carry service papers. It’s just not necessary.” His girlfriend later left with the dog to avoid confrontation. Townsend said that’s when Moore brought up the call.
However, workers with G&G Restaurant told WPXI-TV that they never called the cops nor had any issue with Townsend. They released a statement on Facebook, stating, “The entire day we have been deeply saddened by what occurred today. The situation was inexcusable and we completely condemn any type of demeaning behavior towards any individual who walks through our doors.”
The statement continued, “Our entire goal is for every person visiting our restaurant to be able to enjoy their entire experience and for us to serve our community. I would like to tell every single one of our friends and customers to … always be kind and to always strive to morally be the best that you can be.”
Vandergrift Police Chief Joseph Caporali revealed that Moore was taken off the schedule with pay pending an internal investigation into the incident.
The Tribune-Review obtained court records that state Moore was put on paid leave in 2017 for allegedly assaulting and harassing a 14-year-old boy. He later pleaded guilty to the harassment charges.