According to WACH Fox 57, the footage shows Sergeant Chad Walker outside of a bar talking with several patrons. In response to one patron, who is a Black man, Walker used the slur several times.
In a statement, the Columbia Police Department said Walker, who is white, found “several violations of the Governor’s Executive Order to stop the service and consumption of alcohol,” which led to the officer’s interaction with patrons.
During this exchange, the department claims the man called Walker the N-word. In cell phone footage taken after the fact, the man repeatedly denies this claim from Walker, who has turned his attention to other patrons and begins repeating the N-word. Multiple people can be heard asking Walker to stop, while the man who allegedly called the Walker the N-word defends himself.
The department "sincerely apologizes for the inappropriate, disrespectful words, behavior and actions of Sgt. Walker.” The incident was captured on both cell phone and Walker’s body camera, which the department said it plans to release.
Eventually, another officer comes to intervene and remove Walker from the situation.
“I am embarrassed and disappointed in the Sergeant’s actions,” Chief Skip Holbrook said of the incident. "The repetition of the racial slur and failure to de-escalate the situation were inexcusable."
In response to the video, protestors gathered outside of one Columbia Police Department building on Sunday. In a letter written to the department, One Common Cause and Empower SC said, "While we understand that this officer did not direct the slur at any one civilian, we are still deeply concerned by his attitude towards this racially charged and hateful language."
Walker is far from the first, and won’t be the last officer caught saying the N-word to citizens they are “sworn to protect and serve.” The video illuminates questions related to what kind of workplace culture cultivates the flippant use of a racist language, even when one knows they are being recorded. He will remain on suspension, and it will be a surprise if any further disciplinary actions come from this situation.