Officer fired over racist conversation appeals termination to judge; new video discovered

Officer fired over racist conversation appeals termination to judge; new video discovered
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Nearly two years have passed since three Wilmington Police officers were captured by a malfunctioning dashboard camera making racist and offensive comments that ultimately led to their termination. Now, additional details, including the revelation of a second recording not previously disclosed, have been made public after one of the officers challenged his firing.

The videos came to light in June 2020, when tensions between police and the public reached a boiling point following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis by a white police officer.

Some of the statements made by some of the officers in the initial recordings included saying a magistrate judge needed a ‘bullet in her head right then and move on,’ and advocating for a ‘civil war to wipe ‘em off the [expletive] map.’

According to court documents, the second recording on May 31, 2020, “Petitioner’s reference to WPD Sergeant (now Lieutenant) [name withheld] as a ‘thing,’ and Petitioner’s response and apparent agreement with Piner’s statement that ‘She’s dumb as a box of rocks.’”

After the discovery of the tapes, Wilmington Police Chief Donny Williams announced the termination of all three officers: Officer James Gilmore, Cpl. Jesse Moore II, and Officer Kevin Piner.

Gilmore appealed his termination first with the city’s Civil Service Commission, which ultimately upheld his termination. WECT has now learned he took his case to a New Hanover Superior Court judge in an effort to reverse his firing.

In his 2020 appeal to the Civil Service Commission, Gilmore said his comments were in regard to his religious beliefs, and not racially motivated.

“The Holy Bible teaches that no one should bow down before another human being or idol and worship them,” Gilmore explained in his appeal letter in 2020. “This conversation was about the Black Lives Matter protesters and was not racially motivated but expressed my personal opinions, based on my religious beliefs.”

Now, in his appeal to the courts, he claims his rights were violated by the firing and the Civil Service Commission’s decision to uphold it.

In part, Gilmore claims the termination was ‘arbitrary and capricious,’ and that it violated his constitutional rights under the state constitution. The appeal can be read in its entirety below.

The City of Wilmington and the police department declined interviews citing the pending litigation, and the city confirmed the case was heard in March, and they are awaiting the judge’s order.

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