Donny Williams, the chief of police in Wilmington, North Carolina, announced this week that former Wilmington Police Department officers Kevin Piner and James “Brian” Gilmore, as well as Cpl. Jesse Moore had been fired from the department, after accidentally recording themselves making wildly racist remarks about fellow officers, a local judge, and Black people in general.
At one point in the recordings, found during a routine monthly audit of police footage, Piner predicts that "we are just gonna go out and start slaughtering them fucking [n-word]." He also told Moore that he felt a new civil war was coming, and that he's "ready" for it.
"I can’t wait," he added. "God, I can’t wait."
Elsewhere in the recording, Moore describes a local judge as a "fucking negro magistrate" who "needed a bullet in her head."
Williams, who is Black, announced the firings Wednesday, less than 24 hours into his first day as Wilmington's chief of police.
"There are certain behaviors that one must have in order to be a police officer and these three officers have demonstrated that they do not possess it," Williams explained during a press conference about the recordings. "When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened, and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated."
Calling the racist recordings the "most exceptional and difficult case" of his career, Williams stressed that he was publicizing the firings because it is "essential to maintain public confidence in the administration of the city and the police department."
According to publicly released personnel documents from the city, all three of the fired officers had worked for the department for over 20 years.
"I have recommended that neither officer be eligible for rehire at the City of Wilmington," Williams announced. "We will also notify the North Carolina Criminal Justice Training and Standards Commission of their behavior," he said, referencing the organization that evaluates an officer's state certification. Officers joining other departments after termination due to behavior problems is a common issue in law enforcement.
Williams also said he planned to work with the district attorney's office to assess whether any cases in which the three officers served as witnesses may have been tainted as a result of their "biases."
According to Wilmington's Port City Daily newspaper, the police department launched an immediate investigation into the officers, after the footage — filmed while Piner's department vehicle camera was seemingly accidentally recording — was discovered June 4. The exact date of the racist conversations themselves is unclear. However, when investigators confronted the trio with the footage, they admitted that it was them on tape, and blamed their "venting" on the stresses of being a police officer, the paper reported.
Williams has already moved to ask a judge for permission to release the footage from Piner's car to the public. In the meantime, he stated that he had begun plans to institute mandatory implicit bias training across the department, add citizens to the police hiring board, and explore a Citizen Review Board for the department.
"Our agency is hurting today because individuals who we believed honored their oath of office violated it and ripped at the very fabric of our family," he said during his press conference. "Please pray for us as we heal and become better because of this challenge."