In one exchange, Owens posted, "It’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Might not get too many n***s," to which Gaither posted in response, "I hope we get a few but (expletive) if we don’t," according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Gaither posted an image of Martin Luther King, Jr., with the caption "I have a dream. That one day my people will not act like animals." Owens commented, "Lol. That’ll never happen." Records show the two made light of domestic violence in their banter.
Sarah Geraghty, managing attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights, said the organization is conducting interviews in the Darien, Georgia, area where the two white officers worked, searching for people who have interacted with county officers, to get an idea of their practices.
She said,"This case goes deeper than two officers caught using racist language on their personal social media pages…The messages reference an explicit intent by these law enforcement officials to ‘get’ black motorists. Our investigation to date suggests that this may be the tip of the iceberg."
When Sheriff Stephen D. Jessup first saw the messages he said they made him "want to throw up."
Jessup stated, "There was never any question of what I needed to do and I did it," adding, "I do not tolerate that in my department."
The sheriff said he was not aware that his officers engaged in racial profiling, but asserted that, if he was, "I wouldn’t tolerate it," and, "If I found out about it I would fire them and prosecute [the offending officers]."
Upon being notified of his termination, Gaither said it was "a stupid mistake," and, "It was just a joke, we all do it." Owens resigned the following day.
A similar incident took place in the San Francisco Police Department in April after Asian-American officer Jason Lai sent racist text messages concerning African Americans, Latinos and Indians.