Two of the men, Kevin Piner, 44, and James Gilmore, 48, were police officers while the third, Jesse Moore, 50, was a corporal. All three had been members of the Wilmington PD in North Carolina for over twenty years.
The firings happened the day after a new Black police chief, Donny Williams, was named in a unanimous decision, but the investigation started on June 4 when the sergeant responsible for monthly video audits found files labeled as “accidental activations” and heard conversations between the officers that were full of racist remarks and disparaging comments about the WPD and some of its officers.
Some of the most shocking came from officer Piner, who spoke about how he’s ready for a civil war, saying, soon “we are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them f****n n***ers. I can’t wait. God, I can’t wait.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Former Officer Piner Said a Civil War Is Necessary to ‘Wipe ’Em Off the F***ing Map’
The recordings consist of two different conversations, the first between Piner and Gilmore after Gilmore pulled his police cruiser up next to Piner’s, according to the Wilmington Police Department Professional Standards Internal Investigation.
The second recorded conversation is from the same day, when Moore called Piner on the phone.
Piner’s comments about a civil war and killing Black people came during his conversation with Moore.
After his remarks about not being able to wait for the so-called next civil war, Piner said he was “ready” and was planning on buying a new assault rifle in the coming weeks, according to the internal investigation report.
He told Moore that “he felt society needed a civil war to ‘wipe ’em off the f***ing map. That’ll put ’em back about four or five generations,” Piner said.
Moore told Piner he would not do any of that and said, “You’re crazy.”
2. Former Corporal Moore Said a Black Drug Addict He Arrested ‘Needed a Bullet in Her Head Right Then & Move On’
While Moore was on the phone with Piner, Moore started talking about an arrest he’d made the day before in which he referred to the woman arrested as a “negro” and “n***er” several times, according to the investigation report. He said, “She needed a bullet in her head right then and move on. Let’s move the body out of the way and keep going.”
To that Piner responded, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
Moore continued his story, referring to the woman he arrested multiple times as a “bitch” and a “crazy bitch” and complained the officer who came to assist him did not want to break her car window when she wasn’t compliant.
To that Piner said, “he’s a p***y … they’re all p*****s.”
Moore went on to refer to the African American magistrate that the woman he arrested went in front of as a “p***y” for suggesting maybe she needed substance abuse treatment more than jail. Piner said to that, “No he’s black.”
Moore said drug addiction is a “crutch” and that “God has a special place in hell for people like that,” referring to the magistrate. “I hope they burn in hell man…hate em. It’s bad because not all black people are like that,” he said, followed by, “90 percent of ’em Kevin, 90 f*****g percent.”
3. Gilmore Said His Comments to Piner About Videos on Social Media of People ‘Worshipping Blacks’ During the George Floyd Protests Had to do With the Bible’s Teachings
We're listening. pic.twitter.com/np1a9TY3g9
— Wilmington Police (@WilmingtonPD) June 19, 2020
Gilmore’s role in the recording happened when he pulled his police vehicle next to Piner’s during some downtime. According to the reports, the two men started talking about the protests and Piner told Gilmore their agency’s only concern was “kneeling down with the black folks.”
Gilmore then went into how he was disturbed by videos he saw on social media that showed white people “bowing down on their knees and worshiping blacks,” including a video of a “fine looking white girl and this punk little pretty boy bowing down and kissing their toes.”
Gilmore said, “How many times have I told you it’s almost like they think they’re their own god.”
During the investigation into the recordings, Gilmore said his comments were not racist, but rather that the video he saw of “white guys getting on their knees and chanting about worshiping blacks was concerning.” He said he’d feel that way no matter who was worshipping who because “worshiping anyone other than God is a violation of the Ten Commandments.”
Gilmore told investigators he “always treats everyone fairly regardless of their race.”
4. Moore & Piner Said They Had Been Under a Lot of Stress & Were Venting but They Don’t Normally Speak Like That & Are Embarrassed
According to the investigation report, when questioned about the recordings, all three officers admitted to making the comments.
Moore wanted it noted that when he called Piner he was off duty and at home. He said he is not racist, he was just venting to his friend about an arrest.
The report says Moore said, “the call combined with the situation with the recent protests had him extremely stressed and he is very embarrassed about the things he said in the video.” He told investigators he doesn’t normally speak like that but was feeding off of Piner and venting.
Piner told investigators that he’d been very stressed due to working the protests and feeling that his family was under threat after seeing a video of a Black man “telling people to find officers residences and kill their families.”
Piner said he was embarrassed when he listened back to the video. He said he’d recently reached out to the Employee Assistance Program because he felt he was at a “breaking point.”
According to the report, Piner said “the comments were uncharacteristic of him and he was out of control.”
5. The New Police Chief Fired 3 Veteran Officers on His Second Day on the Job
— Wilmington Police (@WilmingtonPD) June 24, 2020
Chief Donny Williams was appointed the role on June 23, and on June 24 he fired the officers. In his statement, he wrote, “Today is a challenging day for me because as your new police chief – one of my first major tasks is to announce the termination of three veteran police officers for misconduct.”
Williams said the firings of the three officers was “extremely necessary” in a statement he released about firing Piner, Gilmore and Moore. In part, he wrote:
There are certain behaviors that one must have in order to be a police officer and these three officers have demonstrated that they do not possess it. When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated.
Our agency is hurting today because individuals who we believed honored their oath of office violated it and ripped at the very fabric of our family. Please pray for us as we heal and become better because of this challenge. Please don’t judge our officers based on the conduct of a few. We have great officers who work for our agency and I proudly stand with them and beside them.
Besides the racist comments demonstrated in the video, the officers also disparaged their own agency and multiple colleagues, and called a Black magistrate the n-word and an anti-gay slur.
Williams said of the conversations between the three former officers:
The conversations included disrespectful language, hate-filled speech and referred to black people as the “N” word. They also criticized me, several black officers within the agency and made negative comments about individuals outside of the agency. They made negative comments about the Black Lives Matter protests and were critical of our response. The 46 minute and 12 second conversations were brutally offensive and deserved immediate action.
Williams recommended none of the officers be eligible to be re-hired in the City of Wilmington and said he is going to make sure the North Carolina Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission — the agency that issues state officers’ state certification — is alerted to the officers’ behavior.
Williams also said the department will have to look back at cases the officers were involved in that may have been skewed by the officers’ bias.