Arbitrator Thomas Cipolla overturned the termination of a San Antonio police officer who had been captured on a body camera using a racial slur during an arrest. Arbitrator Cipolla’s award can be found here. KSAT links to the video at San Antonio officer who repeatedly used N-word while arresting black man asks for job back.
The facts of the incident were largely undisputed. The Chief described at the arbitration hearing why he made the decision that termination was appropriate:
This particular incident puts — would put not only [grievant], but the entire department at risk. How can you have an officer working in the community that is as diversified as here with African Americans as part of the population, after the public sees that he’s out here calling people the N-word, the fucking N-word, to quote. It presents a liability to every officer out here who may hesitate to use force against an African American or person of color because of a charge of — possible charge of bias or being racist or that this is a racist department. You have officers running around using the N-word, telling people they are being arrested because they’re a fucking N-word. That is the most inappropriate language I have ever heard used during an arrest, especially to a minority.
At the end of the day, however, I find myself coming to the conclusion that the Appellant was off that day and said some awful things he should not have said and is now sorry for them. The Appellant was not himself that day and whatever set him off that day needs to be addressed. Perhaps the chaplain had some insight into the matter in that he believed the Appellant was pushed and goaded by citizen Robinson and said a lot of things he should not have said. As a longtime veteran in various police departments, this should not have happened to the Appellant. The Appellant should also know he will not be given another chance if he crosses this line again and should consider some anger management counseling and learn techniques to control himself.