An Arkansas County sheriff has resigned after an audio recording of him using racial slurs during an argument with a woman was leaked. In the conversation that was posted on Facebook, former sheriff Todd Wright used the racially derogatory terms while registering his displeasure with the woman for talking to a Black man in a grocery store, Pine Bluff Commercial reports.
Wright, who was identified by the woman as the voice in the five-minute audio recording, reportedly used the N-word nine times and called the woman a “n**** lover” for talking to the Black man in question.
“I don’t understand why you’re so mad at me,” the woman asked.
“Why you got to holler at f****** n****** when I’m around,” Wright responded, with the woman saying: “Todd you talk to people all the time,” according Pine Bluff Commercial.
After the audio recording leaked, Arkansas County Judge Eddie Best and other Justices of the Peace expressed concerns with Wright’s choice of words and consulted the legal counsel to look into the incident.
“It saddens me that anyone would disrespect God’s creation in this manner,” Best said. “No way will I condone this action from anyone.”
Wright resigned on Friday during a public meeting at the county’s Quorum Court to discuss the incident, Pine Bluff Commercial reports.
“After viewing and hearing the video I was terribly upset to know that we have someone out here that’s supposed to be taking care of us, protecting and serving to have that kind of opinion of me – I’m using me as a race because of my color,” Justice of the Peace Inez McLemore said, adding that she worried for the inmates under the Sheriff Department’s control.
“If the head is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt,” she said.
“I’m a Christian man. I read my bible every day,” he said. “I am by no means a racist. That video does not show the true picture of me.” Despite the apology, community members demanded he steps down. He initially refused to resign but caved in after mounting pressure.
During the meeting, friends and family of the Black man took turns to call Wright out for racist utterances.
“The guy he was speaking of, that’s my nephew,” a woman claiming to be the man’s aunt, said. “He wouldn’t come here today. He doesn’t like this kind of stuff but he’s hurt.”
Responding to his apology, she said: “I don’t believe anything you just said. You have to say this stuff because you want to keep your job.”
Another woman claiming to be the Black man’s mother, also said the incident left her son hurt and embarrassed and hasn’t been able to resume work as a result, Pine Bluff Commercial reports.
“I don’t feel that was right for you to call him out of his name like that,” she said. “I do wish that you would resign or get fired.”
Wright’s resignation was accepted by the court. A motion that was subsequently passed after he stepped down will allow him to continue being on the county’s payroll as contract labor until September 30, NBC reports. He will, however, not be on duty as an active law enforcement officer.