Cincinnati police officer blames music for calling teen the n-word during road rage caught on bodycam video

Officer has history of aggressive behaviour

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 27 July 2022 13:41 BST
Cincinnati police officer uses racial slur while on duty

A white Cincinnati police officer with a history of aggressive behaviour has been punished after being caught on her body camera calling a Black teen a racial slur.

Officer Rose Valentino was pulling into her police precinct on the east side of the city in April 2022, when a group of cars lining up at the nearby Western Hills University High School blocked her way.

Police body camera footage, obtained by WCPO, shows the 14-year veteran officer becoming increasingly agitated and turning on her sirens. A Black teenager then walks by and allegedly raises his middle finger at Ms Valentino, sending her into a rage.

“F****** n******. I f****** hate them," she can be heard saying in the footage.

Officer Valentino, who trains rookie Cincinnati police officers, has had her policing powers suspended while the disciplinary process takes place, according to city officials

"Officer Valentino will not be on city streets in uniform, wearing a badge, or carrying a firearm," interim city manager John Curp said in a statement.

The Cincinnati police union said Ms Valentino told WCPO “anyone” who uses such language is “wrong,” but that the officer is entitled to a fair disciplinary hearing under the union contract.

The incident horrified city officials.

“I was appalled to see Officer Valentino display such hateful, angry, and racist language. Our law enforcement represents all of this city, and Black Cincinnatians deserve to feel safe knowing they will be treated with mutual respect," Mayor Aftab Pureval said in a statement on Monday.

"A fair and complete process needs to play out, but someone demonstrating this behavior has no place in a world-class organization like CPD.”

The officer admitted to using the slur in reference to the teen, according to an internal investigation, blaming the mental pressures of the job and even popular music for influencing her racist choice of language.

Ms Valentino told investigators she had been “desensitized to racially offensive language by music and hearing people talk on the street" and "frequent exposure had allowed the slur to slip into her vernacular."

The officer, who joined the force in 2008, has a documented history of aggressive behaviour.

In 2018, she was one of three officers named in a lawsuit, after pulling out a gun and handcuffing a Black realtor showing a Black client a home, which had mistakenly been reported as a break-in. The city later settled the suit for over $100,000.

Two years later, Officer Valentino pleaded guilty to punching two family members and using her umbrella to damage a car while off-duty, and was referred for anger management treatment.

The CPD has a history of officers using racist language, and bringing down disproportionate policing and violence against communities of colour.

Two CPD officers are currently suing the city, after they were both disciplined for using the n-word while on duty.

The Cincinnati police have killed 12 people since 2013, 75 per cent of whom were Black, in a city with a Black population of just over 40 per cent, according to data analysis from the Mapping Police Violence project. There are nearly identical disparities when it comes to arrests, according to Police Scorecard.

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