A North Carolina sheriff is under investigation after a recording surfaced of him calling Black employees derogatory names and suggesting they be fired.
On Wednesday (September 28), the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation confirmed that officials had launched an obstruction of justice probe against Columbus Sheriff Jody Greene over his remarks during a 2019 phone call.
That same day, local TV station WECT obtained audio of the 6.5-minute call from former Captain Jason Soles, who recorded the conversation in February 2019.
“I’m sick of these Black b*****ds. I’m going to clean house and be done with it,” Greene said to Soles during the call.
The conversation came shortly after Greene narrowly defeated the previous sheriff Lewis Hatcher, who is Black. Soles was temporarily appointed as the acting sheriff while election officials investigated a complaint regarding whether Greene was eligible for the position.
Greene believed that the Black deputies in the department were loyal to Hatcher and had leaked information about him.
In the phone call, Greene suggested that disloyal Black deputies be fired.
“Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake,” Greene said to Soles.
Several Black officers in leadership positions were later demoted or fired.
The North Carolina NAACP condemned the recording and called for Greene to resign.
“His language is divisive, nasty, and offensive — his words are disparaging and hurtful to people of color. His actions have cast a cloud over his ability to execute the office with impartiality,” the NAACP said in a statement.
However, Greene has accused Soles of releasing the recording to the media due to political motivations. The two are running against each other for Columbus County Sheriff.
Soles told WECT that he had previously shared the recording with state and county officials, but the SBI declined to investigate until a local prosecutor requested a probe.
Governor Roy Cooper has also condemned the recording.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing and if true, should disqualify anyone from serving in law enforcement,” Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper, said.
Listen to the audio here.