A young, black woman walked home in the bitter cold on Tuesday night while a white Detroit police officer openly mocked her on social media, with Snapchat videos captioned “walk of shame” and “bye felicia.”
Officer Gary Steele reportedly pulled over Ariel Moore, 24, for having expired license-plate tabs. Her vehicle was towed, and so she walked the rest of the way home in the below-freezing weather.
Steele, meanwhile, drove alongside Moore, posting videos to his Snapchat with racial taunts like “What black girl magic looks like,” and “celebrating Black History Month.”
Local news station WXYZ-TV publicized the Snapchat posts, and Steele, an 18-year veteran of the department and a corporal, was then put on administrative leave and demoted from his rank following. Officials are conducting an internal investigation on the matter.
“What they put on there, that’s racist,” said Moore’s mother, Monique Mobley, in an interview with the station. “They demeaned my child for no reason.”
Her daughter added: “I’ve never had this happen to me in my life. I’m kind of shocked—I don’t really know how to feel right now. I’m still trying to take it in.”
Moore lived roughly a block from where she was detained, said police Chief James Craig during a Thursday afternoon press conference. Craig said he called Mobley to apologize the night after the video, adding that police have waived the towing fees and released the car back to Moore.
“I’m not troubled. I’m not disappointed. I’m angry,” Craig said.
The chief noted that body-camera footage showed Steele and his partner, who is also under investigation, offered Moore a ride home on Tuesday night.
“At some point, the officer made the bad decision to make a Snapchat post,” he continued. “On top of that, she’s walking on a very cold night. It’s dark, and, in my view, she’s in harm’s way.”
“It could’ve been my daughter, my sister,” added Craig. “It doesn’t matter, it could have been anyone.”
Prosecutors reportedly charged Steele in 2008 with physically attacking his ex-girlfriend and firing a gun next to her head, and the officer accepted a misdemeanor plea deal for probation.
“His departmental history predates my appointment,” said Craig. “I will tell you there would have been a different outcome had I been chief during those years. But his history is troubling. There’s a pattern, and I’m concerned about that pattern. So that’s something I’ll be looking at and addressing.”
Craig said he had removed the officer’s rank of corporal and that he will not have contact with the public until the investigation has concluded.