A Black police officer in Florida has been fired after body camera footage revealed him to have blithely used the n-word, perceived as a racial slur.
An eight-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department, Delvin White had been serving as a resource officer at Middleton High School in Tampa.
The statement issued by the Tampa Police Department on 3 March says White was fired on Tuesday "for violations of policy that prohibit discriminatory conduct".
Footage released by the department shows White driving in a parking lot, talking to himself and conversing with other people after a high school football game on 13 November 2020.
White is then heard making a personal call to a woman, where the two discuss their jobs, and says:
"Every day that I go to work and not one kid gets shot or stabbed, that means I've done my job. And that's a lot of responsibility."
He then tells the interlocutor he is responsible for making sure kids don't get shot or stabbed, reiterating later that he strives to ensure "some ghetto n----- don't get shot or stabbed".
During the ensuing probe, White acknowledged to his supervisor that he had earlier used the ‘N-word’ while making a trespassing arrest on 30 November, according to the city's statement, with police also releasing the bodycam footage of that incident.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Police Benevolent Association said on Thursday it would fight the department's decision to fire White, and was filing a grievance.
Spokesman Danny Alvarez said in a statement that "the facts in the Delvin White matter do not reflect an act or any intent that warrants the punishment he received for his alleged transgression".
Robin Lockett with Florida Rising, an independent political organisation, was cited by Bay News 9 as agreeing that some punishment was due in the case, but that firing the officer had been unwarranted.
"That word used in our community is normal. I was surprised that it was done and I'm disappointed because of him being a poster child of them cleaning up the system," said Lockett, adding that it was a ‘slap in the face to the Black community’.
Netizens weighed in, marvelling at what they slammed as ‘hypocrisy” in the decision.
They use the n word on each other all the time. But if it's someone else who uses it they whine discrimination, It's hypocritical.— 🤫Supernatural fangirl 🤬 (@SquirrelMoose59) March 5, 2021
Guess the rappers better watch out ...they are next on the list of using the word...A Black police officer in Tampa, Florida was fired this week for using the n-word. Delvin White said he used it all the time for "His culture" @CNN @CBSNews— Kevin S (@bham4ever) March 5, 2021
Wonder if they and the hundreds of Twitter commentors I’ve seen would be defending him if he was white and said these things? I’m pretty sure Tampa would be burning by now.— Kenny Phillips (@657Kenny) March 5, 2021
He may get his job back but if it was a white cop it would never happen— Michael Roberts (@overlyrandy) March 5, 2021