• Ocoee police officer fired over racial slur, chief says

    By: Mark Boxley

    Updated:

    OCOEE, Fla. - A police officer was fired Thursday after an investigation into a report that he used a racial slur, the Ocoee Police Department said.

    Lt. William Wagner was relieved of duty on Sept. 26 after he reported himself for a statement he made to another officer, an internal investigation report said.

    According to the report, Wagner was talking to the officer about damage done to his home during Hurricane Irma.

    While showing the other officer a photo of the damage, he called the residence his "(slur) house."

    "Lieutenant Wagner immediately apologized to (the officer), telling him his comment was unacceptable," the report said. "Lieutenant Wagner also advised (the officer) that he was going to report himself and apologized a second time. 

    "Lieutenant Wagner then immediately reported his utterance to Chief Charles Brown."

    According to the report, Wagner tried to clarify to the interviewer what he meant when he said the slur.

    "I'm extremely sorry for what I said. I didn't mean it. It's not a -- I didn't say it in a racial term. I said it in a socioeconomic term," he is quoted as saying in the report.

    Wagner did not have any past complaints of a racially discriminatory nature, investigators said. 

    In an interview, Wagner told investigators that he had been under a lot of stress over the damage done to his home when he said the slur.

    "I was speaking about myself and a condition in my home in a time where I really just didn't have anything else in me to give," he is quoted as saying in the report. 

    The interviewer noted that Wagner's comments did not appear to be an argument used to lessen the seriousness of the slur.

    "Lt. Wagner did not appear to be making an excuse for his comment, but rather an explanation of his stress that had built up to the point he made the remark," the report said.

    Chief Charles Brown released the following statement on Wagner's termination:

    "The Ocoee Police Department holds all members of the department to the highest standards of the law enforcement profession and Lieutenant Wagner's behavior has fallen short. I am deeply troubled by his use of a racial slur, which is not only offensive and unacceptable. His actions undermine the tremendous work our police officers do every day to build a true partnership with our Ocoee community based on trust and respect. We will always be committed to transparency and accountability."

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