Second Detroit officer fired over Snapchat video; chief calls precinct "racially divided" | Michigan Radio
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Second Detroit officer fired over Snapchat video; chief calls precinct "racially divided"

Mar 13, 2019

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has fired a second white police officer because of a seemingly racist Snapchat video.

Michael Garrison’s partner Gary Steele made the video after they towed a young black woman’s car for expired plates in January, leaving her to walk home in frigid temperatures. It included racially-charged commentary like “what black girl magic looks like.” Garrison can be heard saying “walk of shame.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig announces the firing of Officer Michael Garrison.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Craig launched an investigation into the incident and both police officers in February. He also launched an “environmental audit” of the sixth precinct, where both worked.

Craig says the investigations revealed this was part of a pattern of “disturbing actions” and “racially insensitive statements” by the veteran white officers, who set a tone that permeated the sixth precinct.

“The sixth precinct is racially divided,” Craig said at a press conference Tuesday. “Some referred to the racial insensitivities that was demonstrated by some, emphasis on some, that this was the sixth precinct’s dirty little secret.”

Craig says Garrison and Steele also apparently ran a ticket-and-tow scheme that targeted African American drivers. They allegedly targeted drivers toward the end of their shift, so they wouldn’t have to make additional runs.

Craig said all 11 allegations against Garrison were substantiated during his hearing last week. The charges include conduct unbecoming an officer, making false statements to investigators, and neglect of duty.

Craig also revealed that Garrison had been terminated from the job before, for charges including making false statements to investigators, conduct unbecoming, and unjustifiable use of a firearm. Craig didn’t divulge any details about what led to the charges, but said Garrison’s termination was reduced to a 60-day suspension when he appealed to an arbitrator.

Both Steele and Garrison have a right to appeal their terminations now.

Craig says the environmental audit of the sixth precinct should be completed within the next week. He says he’s happy with the precinct’s current commander, who took over about six months ago, but plans to make changes at some other management-level positions there.