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Detroit police officers sued over Snapchat video

detroit police car
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Two white former Detroit police officers are being sued over a Snapchat video that showed them making racist comments about an African American motorist.

Officers Gary Steele and Michael Garrison were fired over the Snapchat video post. It showed the two mocking Ariel Moore after towing her car, with commentary like “what black girl magic looks like.”

Now Moore is suing over the incident. The lawsuit names the city of Detroit and its police department as well.

Another African American woman, Elaine Murriel, is also suing Steele, the city, and Detroit police over how she was treated during a 2018 arrest. Murriel says Steele broke her arm while handcuffing her.

The lawsuit claims Murriel should never have been arrested in the first place. She fired shots at a woman’s car during a domestic dispute after she said the woman tried to run her down. Murriel is a licensed CPL holder. According to the lawsuit, she was held in jail with a broken arm for four days before being released without charges.

Moore and Murriel’s lawyer Geoffrey Fieger called Steele and Garrison “two rogue police officers” during a press conference Friday saying that Steele in particular had a history of violent and assaultive behavior.

Fieger said Detroit Police Chief James Craig has taken some positive steps including firing Steele and Garrison, but “the incidence of racial discrimination and racial profiling and invidious, racially-motivated incidents is still far too great, and it reflects a failure to train and a failure to screen in terms of the continued employment of officers who have no business being on the force.”

Craig has said that both Steele and Garrison were fired from DPD in the past, but got their jobs back through the arbitration process, something that’s “out of my hands.” Both officers are again seeking arbitration to try and get their jobs after Craig fired them in February and March, respectively.

Neither Steele or Garrison had lawyers listed in court documents as of Friday, and neither could immediately be reached for comment.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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