Officer Reprimanded After Making Inappropriate Comments To Black Girls

A middle school student in Richmond, Virginia was with friends after school on March 28 when a series of events led an officer to tell the girls they would be “his” when they turned 18. Cameron Hilliard, 13, said someone in the group of students used an expletive about the police after school, and the comment was overheard by a Richmond Police officer parked outside Albert Hill Middle School. The officer, in an attempt to find out who made the remark, zoned in on Cameron and her friends, she told The Washington Post. The group told the officer that they did not make the comment, and soon found themselves in a back and forth; Cameron began filming the interaction. “Even if we did say it, that’s our choice of words,” one of Cameron’s friends told the officer. The officer’s response shocked the girls and everyone who has since watched the video. “Wait till your a—es turn 18; then you’re mine,” the officer said. The eighth grade girls shrieked in disbelief as the officer drove off. A parent of one of the students uploaded the clip to Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 56,000 times. “I am disgusted and disappointed but not surprised that a white male officer would make a threat and use that tone or language towards a group of children,” Tenesha Calloway wrote. She continued: “My child and her friends have to walk to their after-school program and knowing that the police are making idle threats to them is unsettling. I want to know who this officer is and I demand an apology and some form of reprimand to this officer.” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a Democrat, said the officer’s remark is unacceptable. “It reinforces stereotypes of our communities that are hurtful and damages the relationship between our police department and the citizens they are charged to serve,” he wrote. In a statement released April 4, Richmond Police Department Interim Chief William C. Smith apologized to residents of Richmond, as well as the parents and students involved in the incident. “His actions do not reflect the values, training, or policies of the Department,” Smith said of the officer. Smith said the department conducted an internal investigation and concluded that the officer would be sent to “mandatory remedial training.” The officer was also moved from the area “to ensure that there is no possible perception of bias or retaliation within the community.” The interim police chief noted that the officer “was open and honest during his interview and expressed regret for his actions.” The officer, whose name was not released, asked to apologize to the students’ parents. Calloway did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment. However, both Calloway and Keisha Curry, Cameron Hilliard’s mother, expressed frustration with the incident and apprehension regarding the police department’s response. “This should not be taken lightly and because we are the voice of our children we won’t be silenced,” Calloway wrote on Facebook on April 2. “Despite how they are attempting to depict them in the news and these weird comments that insist on justifying a grown man inflicting fear on children. We all know the history of this country and the current state that it’s in, anyone that justifies his actions is a part of the problem.” Curry applauded news that the officer had been reprimanded but was apprehensive about reports regarding his regrets. “I’m looking forward to meeting the officer and hearing this directly from him,” she wrote in a Facebook post on April 4. “It could show a lot about his true character being honest and owning his mistake especially when it comes straight from him.”

In a message to The North Star, Curry said that Richmond Police are arranging a sit down between parents, their children, and the officer responsible. However, Curry said that police have yet to release the officer’s name to parents. She said she will be left with concerns until the officer’s identity is revealed.

“Not letting the public know who he is doesn’t [allow] any other individuals the opportunity to speak out if they were mistreated by the officer before,” Curry told The North Star. “With so much secrecy, I only wonder if something truly is being done.” Curry said she does not want the office fired for his actions but does want him to be held publicly accountable. “We look forward to meeting the officer and want to get to know him and possibly bridge the gap between the community and law enforcers,” she said. “But first we have to face this head on.”

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.