White Florida Cop Accused of Instigating Drunken Off-duty Fight with Group of Black Men with N-word, Claims He Would Never Use the Racial Slur: ‘My Girlfriend’s Black’

A white police officer in South Florida faces termination following an unwarranted confrontation with a group of Black men, capping a long history of discipline problems dating back more than a decade, according to reports.

In the latest incident last November, Officer John Giga, a 16-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, was accused of getting drunk and instigating a fight with a group of innocent Black people, whom he referred to as “n—ers” after he was rejected by a woman at a local bar.

Later, when confronted by investigators about his use of racial slurs, Giga denied it, saying, “That’s not even in my vocabulary. I don’t – I don’t use that. My girlfriend’s Black. There’s no reason that I would ever use that kind of language.”

White Florida Officer Faces Termination for Instigating Off-duty Fight with Group of Black Men By Using Racial Slur, But He Denies It Happened
A Fort Lauderdale police officer was caught on video instigating a fight with a group of men while off-duty and intoxicated. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/CBS News)

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Bill Schultz immediately recommended Giga for termination as a result of a damning internal affairs probe that wrapped up on June 28. 

Previously, a citizens review board concluded on June 10 that Giga should be fired for the repeated incidents, but the police union intervened, urging the Fort Lauderdale city manager and commission to conduct a vote regarding Giga’s future.

Susan Grant, the acting city manager of Fort Lauderdale, released a statement, saying she was still reviewing the findings as well as the chief’s recommendation, but suggested she would not rush to any conclusions in the matter, saying the city “will continue to follow the established disciplinary appeal process.”

She added: “Officer Giga remains on administrative leave with pay during this process.”

Giga has faced trouble at least half a dozen times in his policing career; court records show numerous disciplinary actions for severe infractions dating back to 2013 — a history that has left many in the community wondering why Giga couldn’t be terminated immediately.

“It’s a very thorough investigation, and what I can’t seem to understand is how an individual like John Giga is still wearing the uniform of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department when its been investigated, and this didn’t just happen last week or the week before; this was Thanksgiving last year,” said retired Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes, according to News 7 Miami. “For a man that’s been suspended four times, reprimanded six times, I think his time has come. It is time for Fort Lauderdale to cut their losses.”

The local chapter of the NAACP demanded Giga’s termination months after last year’s incident, which sparked public outrage after yet another scandal involving Giga, this time on Thanksgiving Day 2023.

“There’s no room on the Fort Lauderdale police force for racist officers. We expect that he will no longer continue to wear the uniform,” said Marsha Ellison, president of the Broward County branch of the NAACP, according to Local 10 News in Fort Lauderdale.

Ellison also accused Giga of drinking and driving in a marked police cruiser on the night of the incident, although he never faced charges.

“So we have come … to demand accountability and justice from the City of Fort Lauderdale regarding their police officer,” she said.

The public defender’s office also called for Giga’s immediate firing.

“This guy has no regard for any rules, anyone’s safety, or any dignity to the community that he serves,” Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes said, the station reported.

Weekes also announced plans to review Giga’s other disciplinary cases, identifying six of them for further scrutiny.

Last year’s incident was partially captured on surveillance videos, showing Giga engaging in “aggressive and racist behavior.” Footage from bodycams worn by the responding officers, who didn’t recognize Giga as a fellow cop, was also presented as evidence.

On the night of the incident, Giga finished his work shift and drove his patrol car to Hunters Beach Bar in Fort Lauderdale, where he ordered his first drink shortly after 11 p.m.

Weekes suggested the officer changed out of his police uniform inside the cruiser before sauntering inside plainclothes.

“And after his shift, takes off his police uniform, his police shirt, his police gun belt, and leaves in his marked police unit and then goes to the bar,” Weekes said, adding: “He starts hammering back drinks, drink after drink after drink.”

Surveillance cameras inside the bar showed Giga ordering drinks several times, socializing and embracing a member of the bar staff.

At this time, Giga allegedly began sending harassing text messages to a woman he knew from a nearby bar, investigators said, describing the messages as scandalous.

“Continues his texting and is rebuffed by this young lady, who is not interested and does not respond,” Weekes said. “He gets agitated, he gets upset, and he says that, ‘I’m going to show up and ‘f’ things up.’”

Surveillance video later that night showed Giga arriving at Capones in downtown Fort Lauderdale to look for the woman he had exchanged texts with.

The woman reportedly told authorities she became frightened and hid when she saw Giga walk inside.

“This young lady hears at the door and crouches down to hide and secret herself so she is not seen in that bar because she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him that night,” Weekes said. “She then goes into the freezer and hides herself in the freezer.”

Giga gave up on finding her, angrily left the bar and returned to the parking lot, where he encountered a group of Black men minding their own business, investigators said.

That’s when Giga allegedly instigated a fight by hurling racial slurs and then approached them, banging on the windows of one of their cars and saying the N-word numerous times, according to witnesses.

“He was talking about (the) driver … like calling them (N-word), (N-word), (N-word), (N-word), all that, you know, for no reason. I was like, ‘Hey man, why are you beating on his window like that, man? We’re just trying to have a good time. It’s Thanksgiving, man,’” the witness told police.

Giga is visibly angry as demonstrated by his aggressive actions in the video, Weekes said.

“You can see from his body language that he was clearly agitated, and he’s using the N-word very profusely,” said Weekes.

The men then exited their car, leading to a confrontation with Giga that escalated into a fight.

Soon, the men began driving away to avoid further conflict with the man.

Surveillance footage reveals Giga trailing one of the cars out of the lot, leading to a second donnybrook, and Giga wound up getting the worst of it.

When officers arrived, they found the officer pummeled and bloodied on the pavement.

The NAACP is also urging Fort Lauderdale Police to investigate whether the officers who responded that night turned off their body cameras as a “professional courtesy” while speaking to Giga.

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