Sergeant Chad Walker has been identified as the now-former Columbia, South Carolina, police officer who was recorded repeatedly using a racial slur during a heated confrontation outside of a bar. In a video that has been circulating on social media, Walker, who is white, claims someone at the bar called him the N-word. Therefore, Walker insisted, he was allowed to speak the word in return. Walker was fired August 31, a day after the video surfaced online, Columbia Police said in a statement.
Walker was initially suspended without pay while the incident was investigated, the Columbia Police Department announced in a news release. Chief W. H. “Skip” Holbrook said in a prepared statement that Walker’s “repetition of the racial slur and failure to de-escalate the situation were inexcusable.” The department has also released footage from Walker’s body camera to the public; that footage is embedded below and can also be seen here.
According to the police statement, the incident was reviewed on August 31 by the department’s Chain of Command Disciplinary Review Board and Walker was fired for violating policies regarding unsatisfactory performance and courtesy. Holbrook said in a statement, “We will continue to hold each other to the professional, ethical, and moral standards expected by our citizens and place the highest priority on maintaining public trust. As I’ve stated before, when setbacks occur and mistakes are made, we must be willing to acknowledge them, fix them, learn from them, and continue to move forward together.”
Warning: The videos embedded below contain a racial slur.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Man Inside the Bar Called Walker a Racial Slur First, According to Columbia Police
In South Carolina, bars and restaurants are prohibited from selling alcohol after 11 p.m. Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order on July 10 to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
The incident involving Walker happened on August 29 around 11 p.m. in Five Points, an area of Columbia, South Carolina, known for its nightlife. According to the police department, Walker had been assigned to patrol the neighborhood that evening.
The Columbia Police Department explained in a news release that Walker “entered the business Bar None and found several violations of the Governor’s Executive Order to stop the service and consumption of alcohol. While Sgt. Chad Walker, a 14-year veteran with CPD communicated the order with patrons and employees, a male is heard calling him a racial slur while leaving the establishment.”
In the body camera video released by police, Walker is heard directing people to exit the bar and stop drinking because they are prohibited from consuming alcohol after 11 p.m. It’s unclear what customers said to Walker as they left the bar. But as the group leaves, Walker responds to one of the men and says, “And you’re a little colorblind, sir. Right, stop calling me ignorant.”
Witnesses Recorded Walker Arguing With People in the Crowd About Why He Felt He Was Allowed to Say the Racial Slur
The body camera footage shows Walker accusing one man of calling the officers “f****** pigs.” The man, who was wearing a mask, denies saying that and then expresses concern about Walker’s language and demeanor. He questions why Walker is “talking to “these people of color as if they are less than human.”
A Black man walks into the frame with his back to the camera and denies calling Walker the racial slur. Walker counters, “Actually, you did. It’s on body cam. So try again.” The two then go back and forth several more times on whether the younger man had called Walker the slur.
Walker angrily insists, “You got mad because I told you you couldn’t drink your drink, so you called me that word.” The other man responds, “What word?” Walker replies, “You want me to say it again?”
Walker shouts back at the man that by using the racial slur, he was calling Walker ignorant because “that’s what that word means.” People can be heard off-camera disagreeing with Walker’s definition of the racial slur as others in the group try to separate the two men.
— Lauren Chumley (@lschumbucket) August 30, 2020
Walker keeps going: “When I was called that, I can say it back.” In the clip, people are heard arguing with Walker and telling him it’s not right of him to use the word out loud because he is white. Walker continues, “Who cares what color I am? He called me a word.” Off-camera, a witness exclaims, “It’s a racist word!”
Walker tries to explain that he didn’t actually refer to the Black man by using the racial slur but had merely been saying that he himself had been called it. As the shouting continues, another police officer steps in front of Walker and gently backs him away from the bar patrons as someone off-camera tells Walker to “lead by example.”
A woman then steps forward and urges everyone to “walk away,” noting that everyone had left the bar and nothing illegal was going on. She also tells Walker, “Everyone is done here, sir.” Walker then repeats his assertion, “I don’t understand how if I repeat what he called me, how that’s wrong. Never called anybody a derogatory word, I was actually called the derogatory word.”
During the exchange, Walker insisted that the slur actually meant “ignorant” and told the people in the crowd to look it up in the dictionary. The Merriam-Webster dictionary specifically refutes Walker’s assertion:
There is a widespread belief that the original meaning of n*****, as defined in dictionaries, was “an ignorant person,” and a related belief that current dictionary definitions describing its use as a hateful, racist epithet are a recent change. We do not know the source of those beliefs, but they are not accurate. The word was first included in a Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1864, at which time it was defined as a synonym of Negro, with a note indicating that it was used “in derision or depreciation.” There has never been a definition like “an ignorant person” for this word in any subsequent dictionary published by this company. Nor do we know of such a definition in any earlier dictionary.
Walker Failed to De-Escalate the Situation, the Police Chief Said
Walker, who had been part of the Columbia Police Department for 14 years, was suspended without pay following the confrontation in Five Points. The department launched an internal “disciplinary command review board process.” That review was completed in a day.
After reviewing the video from last night in Five Points, it is evident the actions of Sgt. Walker were a clear failure to fulfill the expectations and standards of our Department. The repetition of the racial slur and failure to deescalate the situation were inexcusable. Our officers are trained to serve as leaders and to deescalate confrontations of potentially volatile situations.
The chief also praised the other officer, without releasing his name, for stepping in to calm Walker:
Although I am embarrassed and disappointed in the Sergeant’s actions, I was encouraged to see a junior officer intervene and remove Walker from the situation, potentially stopping further escalation.
The statement added:
Shortly after the incident last night, Walker’s commanders immediately recognized that inappropriate actions occurred and as a result, they began an internal investigation and body-worn camera review.
Additionally, Chief Holbrook would like to thank our citizens, community leaders, especially Building Better Communities, for sharing their concerns about the incident.
The Columbia Police Department will continue to work to earn the trust of the community that it serves. The actions exhibited last night are not a true representation of the courageous CPD men and women who proudly wear the police uniform. We will be accountable to the public we serve.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Walker has been working with the department since May 2006. He wrote on his profile that he was a “Supervisor of street patrol.”
Walker Was a Street Patrol Supervisor
— Columbia Police Dept (@ColumbiaPDSC) September 1, 2020
Walker was a street patrol supervisor prior to being fired, according to his LinkedIn profile. He wrote on LinkedIn, “Experienced Sergeant with a demonstrated history of working in the law enforcement industry. Skilled in Police Training, Criminal Intelligence, Patrol, Emergency Services, and Public Safety. Strong protective services professional with a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Exercise Science from University of South Carolina-Columbia.”
According to his LinkedIn, Walker graduated from the University of South-Carolina Columbia in 2005. He attended Albertville High School in Alabama before college, graduating in 2000, according to his LinkedIn profile.
In a statement, the Columbia Police said, “The Department’s discipline philosophy takes into consideration the degree of harm caused by the violation(s), the employee’s experience, intentional/unintentional errors, and the employee’s past record. Careful consideration is given to all applicable factors in the disciplinary review process and every effort is made to determine consequences that consistently and fairly fit the specific incident. As a result of the findings of the Board and consistent with our disciplinary philosophy, Sgt. Walker has been terminated, effective immediately.”