A South Carolina police sergeant has been suspended without pay after viral video showed him twice yelling the N-word during a heated exchange outside a bar, authorities said. Chad Walker, a 14-year veteran of the department, is now the subject of an internal affairs investigation, police said.
The tense standoff occurred Saturday night when police arrived at a Five Corners tavern and found several violations of a state order concerning the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, the chief said.
A man wearing a COVID-19 mask is seen confronting Walker, who is white, telling him he is “talking to these people of color as if they are less than human.”
The officer then uses the racial slur twice, saying a Black man called him that. The Black man says he didn’t call the officer that word and the two argue about it, as others watch.
“He can say it to me, but I can’t say it to him?” Walker says, pointing to the Black man. “The gentleman right there that called me a n****r?” Walker responded, pointing at the Black man before repeating the claim, and the word, again.
“Are you serious?” a patron can be heard saying.
“You’re white!” someone else shouts.
“Who cares what color I am? He called me a word,” Walker responds.
Another patron tells the cop to “grow up” and “lead by example,” and then another officer steps in front of Walker and leads him away from the group.
“As Walker and patrons were outside, there was a heated exchange between them, including Walker’s repeated use of a racial slur. The entire incident was captured on Walker’s body-worn camera and citizens’ cell phone video,” Columbia Police Chief W. H. “Skip” Holbrook in a statement Sunday. “The repetition of the racial slur and failure to deescalate the situation were inexcusable.”
No one was arrested or detained in the incident. Walker has not responded publicly to his suspension. The confrontation is one of the latest in a series of incidents involving police and black residents, as well as Black Lives Matter protesters.
“Although I am embarrassed and disappointed in the Sergeant’s actions, I was encouraged to see a junior officer intervene and remove Walker from the situation, potentially stopping further escalation,” the chief said.