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Court upholds Arkansas cop’s firing for drunken use of racial slur on camera

By David Ferguson
Friday, September 20, 2013 14:38 EDT
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Dave Edgmon via screencap
 
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An Arkansas appeals court ruled Friday that Little Rock police officer David Edgmon’s firing was justified after the officer drunkenly used the racial slur “jigaboo” in a video. According to Courthouse News Daily, Edgmon had violated three major ground rules for employees of the Little Rock Police Department: “being intoxicated in public, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer, and engaging in conduct that would open him or the department to public criticism.”

In the summer of 2010, 24-year-old Officer Edgmon was off duty when he approached a group of African-American men outside of a bar in Little Rock and began to drunkenly harass them. When Edgmon realized he was being filmed, and that some of the men who he was talking to were part of a rap group called Ill Legal Productions, he erupted into a tirade, saying, “Get out of my f*cking face. Get that illegal products f*cking jigaboo sh*t out of my f*cking face!”

When the video was uploaded to YouTube and distributed, Edgmon found himself in hot water. In a hearing about the matter, he testified that he had no idea that “jigaboo” was a racist slur.

Police Chief Stuart Thomas countered on the stand that he “didn’t have a question in (his) mind” that Edgmon knew the word was racist and offensive.

After being fired from the Little Rock Police, Edgmon took the case to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, arguing that in 1990, another white Little Rock officer came to a Fraternal Order of Police Halloween party wearing blackface, an Afro wig and carrying a watermelon. That officer was only suspended for 90 days, Edgmon and his lawyers said.

Judge Larry D. Vaught of the Appeals Court ruled that the Halloween party incident was “too distant in time” to serve as a legal precedent in Edgmon’s case.

“We agree that the probative value of an event that occurred 20 years prior, under a different administration, is minimal,” wrote Vaught in his decision, “and refusal of the evidence does not amount to a manifest abuse of discretion.”

Watch the video that got Edgmon in trouble, embedded below via activist Ean Bordeaux:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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