White Detroit officer investigated over racially demeaning comments on social media

The officer allegedly posted a photo of a black female motorist walking home after police seized her car. On the post were the comments, "priceless," and "bye, Felicia."
Image: A Detroit police officer mocked Ariel Moore in a Snapchat video after seizing her vehicle.
A Detroit police officer mocked Ariel Moore in a Snapchat video after seizing her vehicle.WDIV

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By David K. Li

A white Detroit police officer — already suspended and demoted for allegedly creating a racially demeaning social media post — is being investigated for an earlier offensive statement, according to a published report.

Detroit's police chief suspended officer Gary Steele, an 18-year veteran of the force, and his partner in relation to their January stop of a female black motorist, 23-year-old Ariel Moore, NBC affiliate WDIV reported. Steele was also demoted.

Moore was driving with an expired license plate and police seized her car, forcing the woman to walk home. Steele's Snapchat account showed Moore walking home, with his comments "priceless" and "bye Felicia," WDIV said

"What black girl magic looks like" and "celebrating Black History Month" according to a caption tag of the officer's Snapchat that was posted last week.

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Now Steele is being investigated for making a similar Snapchat video in 2017 after impounding a black family's car and making them walk home with their Christmas gifts in tow, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told the Detroit News.

"On the heels of the incident last week, an officer posted in a private Facebook group 'if you think this was bad, the Christmas incident was even worse than that,' " Craig said. "We tracked down the officer, and found he is now working for another law enforcement agency."

"When we reached out to him, he indicated that [Steele] had impounded a car during Christmas two years ago," Craig continued. "The kids had gifts, and while the kids were walking home carrying their gifts, (Steele) supposedly made another Snapchat video saying 'walk of shame' and other racially-insensitive remarks."

A representative for the city's police union, the Detroit Police Officers Association, could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Even before the alleged 2017 incident came to light, the police chief suggested that Steele and his partner were on shaky ground based on the Moore incident, according to WDIV.

"Based on the allegations, they're serious enough to where they cannot serve in the capacity of police officers in the city of Detroit," Craig said.

Moore said Steele's Snapchat commentary was completely unnecessary and unprofessional.

"Why was any of that even called for? You could have taken my car like you wanted to and went on about your day," Moore said.

Steele also has a criminal record from when he was charged in connection to a 2008 beating of his ex-girlfriend and the firing of a pistol in Canton Township, the Detroit News reported. He took a plea bargain, admitting to misdemeanor reckless discharge of a firearm and served one year probation.