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March 29, 2023

Philly police officer seen in viral traffic stop video did not use a racial slur, commissioner says

The cop is returning to his regular duties after being cleared by an investigation that examined body-worn cameras

Investigations Police
Philly Cop racial slur Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia police officer who was accused of using racial slurs during a traffic stop in Germantown last week has been cleared of using such language, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw says.

The Philadelphia police officer accused of using a racial slur during a traffic stop in East Germantown last week has been reinstated following an investigation.

After reviewing footage from body cameras worn by the police officers involved, investigators concluded that none of the officers used racial slurs, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday. The Internal Affairs Bureau is still investigating whether the officers otherwise responded appropriately. 

The officer accused of using a racial slur had been placed on restricted duty during the initial investigation. He has since returned to his regular duties.  

"We take such accusations of our officers utilizing racial epithets seriously, and it's important to provide an update into the investigation," Outlaw said. "However, it is equally important to clear the names of our officers when they are accused of utilizing racial slurs, as is the case here."

A video showing a portion of the March 22 traffic stop was posted to the Instagram account "phillyspotsnews" with the caption, "Cop uses Racial Slur multiple times while trying to make arrest in Germantown." It quickly went viral. 

In the video, an officer is seen pointing a gun at the driver's side window of a parked SUV. He then breaks the front window with his baton and appears to use a Taser before the driver crashes the SUV into a parked police car. During the incident, the officer can be heard yelling at the driver, and a bystander accuses him of using a racial slur. 

The driver, Warren Martin-Williams, 30, has been charged with aggravated assault, drug possession and illegally carrying a firearm, among other charges, Outlaw said. 

In response to the video, Councilmember Cindy Bass and state Senators Art Haywood and Shariff Street released a joint statement accusing the officer of failing "to embody the discipline and leadership such status should bring." They said his actions were "inconsistent with deescalation, trust and good community service."

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 released a statement supporting the officer, saying he disarmed a suspect who resisted arrest without using deadly force.

"We have learned that the officer who was out there doing his job and doing very well was engaged with an armed felon who had a loaded pistol, guns, drugs and a scale and attempted to run off over the officer," FOP President John McNesby said in a video posted to Twitter. "City Councilmembers and other representatives are now engaged in attacking Philadelphia police for doing their job. Sometimes policing isn't pretty, but the officer did do their job out there."