A Detroit Cop Loses His Badge After Mocking a Black Woman on Social Media

Gary Steele made a woman with expired plates walk in below-freezing temperatures. Then he pulled his phone out.


|||Screenshot via WXYZ Detroit
Screenshot via WXYZ Detroit

Gary Steele, a white police officer in Detroit, has been fired after mocking a black woman following a traffic stop.

Earlier in the month, Steele pulled a woman for having an expired license plate. Steele told the woman to leave her vehicle where it was and walk home in the below-freezing temperatures. He then took a Snapchat video using Black History Month filters to mock the woman's predicament, saying things such as "priceless" and "Bye Felicia" in the background.

An investigation and month-long accusations of racial insensitivity followed the Snapchat video. Investigators found other instances of Steele making similar remarks about black residents. Police Chief James Craig announced on Wednesday that a combination of the social media post, past comments about black residents, and disparities in Steele's testimony to internal affairs led to his firing.

Steele reportedly has a history of behavioral issues. In 2008, he was charged with attacking his girlfriend and firing a gun next to her head. Steele remained employed on the police force despite the violent incident.

It is possible under union rules that Steele could contest the firing in arbitration. If he were to prevail, it would not be the first time a department's attempts to fire a bad cop have been undermined by a police union. For example, the Opa-locka Police Department has struggled to fire the infamous sergeant German Bosque for several years.

NEXT: Impartial GOP Arbiter Says Trump Challengers Will 'Lose Horribly'

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “In 2008, he was charged with attacking his girlfriend and firing a gun next to her head”

    Sounds like he skated on an AggBatt with gun modifier, 15ish years minimum in my state.

    1. I guess his girlfriend wasn’t black, so…

  2. If he had shot her he would have been put on paid administrative leave.

    Unfortunately, that’s not a joke.

    1. You’re god damn right. Police can kill with near impunity, beat people, steal, and commit all sorts of crimes without being fired. Get caught being racist or perceived as racist, it’s bye bye.

      How long until cops figure this out and just start shooting people even more?

  3. “In 2008, he was charged with attacking his girlfriend and firing a gun next to her head. Steele remained employed on the police force despite the violent incident.”

    If he used the n-word when he shot her he’d have been fired.

    1. Oops, shooting next to her head, and attacking her in some separate, non-gun way. Sorry.

  4. “It is possible under union rules that Steele could contest the firing in arbitration.”

    Arbitration between the public and one of its servants?

    If he can find some law they broke in firing him, the regular courts are open to him. That would simply be appealing from the immediate representatives of the public to the public will as expressed in law and articulated in a real-world court.

    But arbitration? That puts the public and its servants on an even footing, which the servants don’t deserve. It also undermines our republican form of government, in case Congress is interested (they’re supposed to preserve our republican form of government even at the state and local level).

    1. He gets whatever appeal process that the police union’s contract with the city provides. Frequently, that’s an appeal before an arbitrator in the case of termination.

      1. Yes, I got that part.

        In fact, it’s that part which I’m criticizing.

  5. An investigation and month-long accusations of racial insensitivity

    Because it would be ok if the cop was the same race?

    1. You missed the story, didn’t you? Go back up and read it.

      1. I didn’t miss the story.

        The investigation over his actions was filled with questions and accusation of *racial biases*. Over an action that is horrible no matter who perpetrated it on who.

        But the still put focus on ‘white cop, black victim’ instead of ‘cop, victim’.

        1. You’re right. It’s a horrible act by a power-drunk cop against a helpless citizen.

          Yes, it’s exacerbated, perhaps even motivated, by race.

          But sooner or later we have to stop looking at everything through the filter of race. The overwhelming majority of our citizens can unite behind a shared sense of humanity if we approach things that way instead of through filters that divide us. Just look at what has just happened with Van Jones and CPAC.

          The sooner, the better.

  6. Kinda like the Maryland Democrat calling PG County a You-Know-What District.

    She thought others around her shared her sense of “humor.”

    This cop thought that everyone else is also as much of a sick sadistic fuck as he is and like also finds glee in others’ misery.

  7. What are “black history month filters”?
    What is the racial component of this story? Did he only do this to black people?
    What is gained from Reason injecting race into their headline? If race isn’t specified in a headline – such as, “cop is dick to woman” rather than “cop is dick to X woman” – are we safe in assuming that the person referred to is white?
    Is it less, or more, racist to interpret stories differently based on the “race” of any of the parties involved?

    The glaring disparity I see here is that he held a woman down and fired a gun next to her head, but wasn’t fired, while he was fired for mocking other people he’d detained.

    1. Note: both actions referenced above warrant firing the officer. Just seems like the DV is a bit underplayed here.

    2. A filter is a pre-made template or visual effect you can add to videos on snapchat. The officer added filters to his video explicitly mocking the woman’s race. He also apparently had made disparaging remarks about black residents in the past. If you want to get mad about race being a part of this story, get mad at the officer, not Reason.

      I agree that it’s absurd that he was kept on the force after the DV incident.

  8. It was hilarious!!!! He offered her a ride, she refused.

    1. Where’d you read that?

  9. That he is a dick, clearly evident from this story, is far more important than he is a racist, which is mildly consistent with, but not proven by, this story.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.