Officer in viral video outside Virginia school to be disciplined, offers apology to parents

Posted at 11:35 AM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 11:42:35-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Officials said the Richmond police officer involved in a verbal interaction with a group of Albert Hill Middle School students last week will be disciplined for an “inappropriate comment” and must undergo mandatory remedial training, according to CBS 6. 

“First, I apologize to the citizens of Richmond, to the families and to the children involved," Richmond Police Interim Chief William C. Smith said during a news conference Thursday evening. "His actions do not reflect the values, training, or policies of the Department."

Smith said the department completed an internal investigation of the veteran officer after a 25-second clip, recorded March 28, showed a group of Albert Hill Middle School students involved in a verbal interaction with the officer.

The interim chief said the officer involved has served in various precincts across the city and does not have a "significant discipline history." In fact, Smith said the officer received one complaint over his 15-year tenure and missed court only one time.

"The officer was open and honest during his interview and expressed regret for his actions," Smith said. "He voluntarily requested to be given the opportunity to speak to and apologize to the parents. While these facts don’t minimize the incident, they do give you to totality of the person."

As a result of the incident, Smith said the officer will be disciplined and will attend "mandatory remedial training."

"Unrelated to his discipline, I have moved him from this area of the city to ensure that there is no possible perception of bias or retaliation within the community," Smith added.

The mother of one of the students said the officer initially drove past the students, who were standing outside waiting for an after-school program to begin.

The officer, she said, stopped and questioned the group about something he apparently heard them say.

That's where the video picks up.

"Even if we did say that, that's our choice of words," a female student is heard saying in the video.

"Just wait till your asses turn 18," a voice off camera replied "Then you're mine."

The officer is then seen driving off.

Tenesha Calloway, whose 14-year-old daughter was part of the group outside the school, said she was disgusted by what she saw in the video.

"These are children. If it's a teachable moment [for the officer], do that. Don't react emotionally," she previously said.

She said, in her view, it was an example of an authority figure speaking down to "black or brown children."

"What does he mean behind 'your ass is mine?'" she continued. "These children did not deserve to be spoken to in that manner."

Calloway said she hasn't been contacted directly by the officer nor RPD since the video was released.

"I contacted the lieutenant [Thursday] morning and they told me a letter will be sent to me in the mail in reference to the situation," she stated. "On the news this evening in front of everyone they’re saying he’s going to be reprimanded -- without apologizing to the children he said it to."

Calloway agreed to meet with the officer explaining,  "I want to know what he meant by the comment."

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney released a statement after the video surfaced stating that behavior displayed would not be tolerated by any city employee.

"I trust that the Richmond Police Department will conduct a quick and thorough investigation and respond accordingly," the mayor said. "This behavior is unacceptable. It reinforces stereotypes of our communities that are hurtful and damages the relationship between our police department and the citizens they are charged to serve."

"The Richmond Police Department is a community policing organization founded on transparency, accountability, and integrity," Smith said. "I will tell you when we get things right, and I will, as today, tell you when we get things wrong."