A former Detroit officer fired after posting social media video of himself mocking an African-American motorist now faces two lawsuits accusing him of racially motivated misconduct and abuse, NBC News reports.
Gary Steele, who lost his job after making racist, insensitive remarks about a Black female driver, is now being sued by that woman and another Black woman who claims the officer broke her arm during a 2018 arrest.
The lawsuits, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court last week, names Steele, the Detroit Police Department and the City of Detroit as defendants.
Ariel Moore’s $75,000 lawsuit stems from a January incident in which Steele and his former partner, Michael Garrison, towed her car after stopping her for driving with expired license plate tags. The 23- year-old woman walked home in below-freezing temperatures after turning down a ride from the pair.
Steele filmed Moore as she wandered in the cold and posted the clips to his Snapchat account with the captions “Celebrating Black History Month” and “What Black Girl Magic Looks Like.” Garrison, who’s also named in the suit, snuck in a few snide remarks, saying “Walk of shame. In the cold” and “Bye Felicia.”
Moore’s lawsuit claims she suffered from gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and civil rights violations as a result of the officers’ actions.
The post wound up costing both officers their jobs. In March, Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced Steele was no longer on the force. Garrison was fired just two weeks later.
“I’ve made the determination that police officer Gary Steele be terminated from his position … which is effective today,” Craig said at a press briefing via Facebook. “Former Officer Steele has lost the trust of those he’s served and can no longer provide policing services in our city.”
Craig noted that both Steele and Garrison had histories of making racist, derogatory remarks about Black people, referring to them as “Keishas,” “homies,” or “Jakes.”
Elaine Murriel, the woman who accused Steele of breaking her arm, is now suing the former officer for $25,000. In her complaint, Murriel explains she was dropping her son off his father’s house in May 2018 when the father’s girlfriend tried mowing her down with a car. The attack prompted Murriel to fire her legally owned firearm in self-defense, she said.
When police arrived, Murriel informed them of her legally owned weapon and told them she had just fired it. According to officers’ reports, she was “extremely compliant” and cooperated with police, the lawsuit states.
Things took a turn, however, when Steele “suddenly and physically” placed Murriel under arrest while she was holding her child. The complaint alleges that Steele ordered one officer to hold the woman’s arms and instructed another officer to grab and rip the “scared, crying child” from her arms.
Body cam video from the incident shows Steele refusing to let Murriel leave with her child, and forcefully slapping a pair of handcuffs on her instead.
“You don’t have to get all physical,” Murriel tells the officer. “Let me take my kids. Or let me call my momma to come and get my kids.”
Steele orders the woman to “stop resisting” as officers attempt to detain her.
“Don’t do that, you don’t wanna do that,” they say as Murriel shouts for them to get off of her.
That’s when the lawsuit claims Steele and the other officer began “pulling and yanking” her arm. Despite her cries of agony, Steele “viciously and savagely” forced her left arm backward “in an abnormal manner, and against the natural range of motion,” the complaint states.
Murriel continued screaming in pain, but that didn’t stop Steele from pulling her arm back with such force that he broke it.
“Other responding officers were upset and angry over Steele’s conduct, and commented that Steele’s actions were completely unnecessary,” according to the lawsuit.
The incident left Murriel with a fractured arm, and she had to undergo an operation, her attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, told Click on Detroit. Fieger, who’s bringing both lawsuits, said he hoped the complaints will spur the Detroit PD to make some changes.
“When it costs them money, then they start making changes and that’s the purpose of these lawsuit,” he said.
Police Chief Craig addressed the lawsuits on Friday and said the arm-breaking incident remains under investigation.
Watch more in the video below.