A fire captain in Savannah, GA has been placed on leave and is facing criminal charges pending an investigation after he allegedly used racial slurs and waved a handgun at customers and employees of an Applebee's, according to WTOC.
Community leaders are wondering why he wasn't charged with more.
According to the police report, an incident occurred around 9:30 PM last Friday at the casual dining chain when Captain Barry Arnold began calling his waitress the N-word. This led to a fight after a customer tried to intercede on behalf of the waitress; Arnold apparently then called the wife of that customer the N-word and began kicking the man. After this fight, Arnold apparently walked out to his car to get his handgun, returning to the restaurant with the gun, and "threatening to use it while continuing to use the N-word."
It was at this time that police arrived and arrested Arnold.
Arnold has been a firefighter for over 20 years and was named Firefighter of the Year in 2014, WTOC says. Arnold now faces multiple charges including disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and pointing a gun at another person—all misdemeanors.
The level of the charges has some in the Savannah community perplexed and upset. At a press conference in front of the police station on Thursday, the Unity Political Action Committee called for Arnold to be terminated from his position and charged with felonies instead of misdemeanors, regardless of his previous good-standing in the community.
"Aggravated assault, terroristic threats, endangering minors, violation of civil rights on and on," Rev. Leonard Small said, making a case for felony charges at the time.
When reached by phone, Small told me that he held the press conference in front of a police station because "it was a dereliction of duty for the police officer" to only charge Arnold with misdemeanors.
Small blames "the culture of Savannah" and says that police went easy on him becuase he's a firefighter. Other witnesses told Small that once the arresting officer learned that Arnold was a first responder, the situation changed, resulting in no felony charges.
"Any other man in this community would have been charged with felonies," Small said. He then cited the current climate in Savannah as a reason that felony charges should be levied.
"We’re in the middle of a crime wave, an epidemic, in our community," Small told me, "and I cannot reasonably tell my community to trust the police if they cannot dispatch their duties with equity."
Whether or not the charges against Arnold will be elevated is unclear. According to Chatham County district attorney's office public information officer Kristin Fulford, that decision still rests with the Savannah Chatham Metro police department.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org