[CORRECTION: A photo previously used with this story was not a picture of the subject of this story, Michael Elsbury.]
A police officer in Baton Rouge resigned Thursday after a local news channel revealed that he sent text messages in which he wished that fellow officers “would pull a Ferguson” on a “bunch of monkeys,” The Advocate reports.
Fifteen-year-veteran Michael Elsbury resigned on Thursday after text messages he sent to a female friend were brought to the attention of his superiors. In one message, Officer Elsbury — whose patrol included the area around the historically black Southern University — wrote that blacks are “nothing but a bunch of monkeys,” and that the “only reason they have this job is the nigger, nigger in them.” It is unclear what “job” he is referring to.
In another text, he wrote that “I wish someone would pull a Ferguson on them and take them out. I hate looking at those African monkeys at work…I enjoy arresting those thugs with their saggy pants.”
After WBRZ reported on the text messages, the female friend turned her phone over to police, who spent two days combing through it in order to authenticate the messages. At 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday night, the Baton Rouge Police Department had collected enough evidence to place Officer Elsbury on administrative leave.
On Thursday afternoon, he tendered his resignation.
Police Chief Carl Dabadie said that “it was gut-wrenching to believe that someone had that much hate in them, especially a police officer who is out there enforcing the law every day. It made me sick to my stomach.” Chief Dabadie said that he understands how an incident like this could “cast a bad light” on the entire department, but hopes the community can appreciate the alacrity with which the incident was handled.
“I believe this is an isolated incident that occurred between the officer and this girl,” he said. “I do not want this to become a direct reflection on our officers. I have 650 officers, and 649 of them work their butts off every day for the city of Baton Rouge.”
The Reverend Al Sharpton — who was in Baton Rouge Thursday evening for the Rally for Victor White III, the black man who police claim committed suicide in a police cruiser with a handgun while his hands were cuffed behind his back — called the messages “beyond frightening,” and noted that “one or two [bad cops] can make the difference between our kids spending an inordinate amount of time in jail.”
The president of the Louisiana chapter of the NAACP, Ernest Johnson, said that “there’s no place in our community or anywhere in this country for a person upholding the safety of the law to make the kinds of comments that I saw.”
“I don’t want this to end with him resigning,” he added. “I think there’s more to it than that.”
According to police spokesperson Corporal Don Coppola, Officer Elsbury is still currently the subject of a criminal investigation.
Watch the WBRZ follow-up on Elsbury’s resignation below.