COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Columbia, South Carolina, police officer was fired Monday evening after he was seen on video using the N-word during a heated exchange with customers outside a bar.
Sgt. Chad Walker was ordering customers to leave the bar in the Five Points neighborhood shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday, enforcing mandatory bar closing times in place because of the coronavirus, according to a statement issued by the Columbia Police Department.
Bodycam video released by the department shows Walker responding to a muffled comment from a male patron, saying, “You’re a little color-blind, sir.”
Outside the bar, when a white patron confronts Walker, the customer says, “My issue is you talking to these people of color as if they are less than human.”
Walker pointing to a Black male who was in the bar, responds: “People of color? The gentleman right there that called me a N***er?”
After repeating the slur, several customers can be heard getting upset. The Black man denies repeatedly ever saying the word to the officer, and eventually walks away.
Walker is shown on video continuing to argue with the rest of the crowd — which is mostly white — for another three minutes, saying, “I was called that, I can say it back… He can say it to me, but I can’t say it to him? Why?”
“You’re white,” responds one customer.
“Who cares what color I am?” Walker said, as another officer attempts to separate him from the crowd and a female patron says, “Everyone just needs to walk away.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not going to just sit there and be called derogatory names,” said Walker as the altercation ends.
Eyewitnesses also captured the incident on cell phone video and posted it on social media.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook apologized on behalf of the department in a statement Sunday night.
“The repetition of the racial slur and failure to deescalate the situation were inexcusable,” Holbrook said.
Walker was suspended with pay on Sunday pending a review.
The department announced Monday night that Walker was fired after an investigation, citing unsatisfactory performance and courtesy. The Chain of Command Disciplinary Review Board vote was unanimous, the department said.
CNN was not able to reach Walker for comment. He had been on the force for 14 years, according to the department.
The patron Walker had accused of using the slur against him has not been identified.