Officer will keep job despite racist email about virus masks

Oklahoma

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma police officer will keep his job after being disciplined for responding to an email about department-issued coronavirus protective masks by sending racist images of people with white bags over their faces carrying torches, reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan preparing to lynch black victims, officials said.

The Norman police department didn’t reveal the extent of Officer Jacob McDonough’s discipline. It cited a state statute that allows a public body to keep personnel records confidential unless final disciplinary action results in loss of pay, suspension, demotion of position or termination.

“The discipline was determined following consideration of the facts of the incident discovered during the investigation and feedback from the Norman Citizens Advisory Board (NCAB),” spokeswoman Sarah Jensen said Wednesday in a news release. “In accordance with Oklahoma State Law, details regarding the nature of the discipline will not be available for public release.”

The department’s internal affairs division investigated the May 5 email that McDonough sent to about 250 colleagues. It featured a screen-shot of men dressed in bag-like KKK masks from Quentin Tarantino’s slave-revenge movie “Django Unchained.”

The photos included the captions, “I think we all think the bag was a nice idea,” followed by, “But not pointin’ any fingers, they coulda been done better.”

Within 15 minutes of McDonough’s post, police Lt. Lee McWhorter responded.

“McDonough, I really hope you didn’t mean that the way it looks because that’s MORE than inappropriate. I’d say this is a fantastic time to stop this email thread,” McWhorter wrote.

“Sir, I would like to apologize,” McDonough wrote in response, saying he was using satire from the movie.

Police chief Kevin Foster said he was“very offended” and “couldn’t believe an officer had sent that out.”

“Regardless of what (McDonough) he was thinking, the inappropriateness of it and how it offends people is still there,” Foster said May 19.

A phone call to a number listed for McDonough was answered by a man who said it was a wrong number. A second number listed for McDonough disconnected after ringing twice.

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