9/20/2013 7:16:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - An Arkansas police officer was properly fired for a drunken, racist tirade that was filmed and posted on YouTube, a state appeals court ruled.
David Edgmon was fired for violating three rules of the Little Rock Police Department: being intoxicated in public, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer, and engaging in conduct that would open him or the department to public criticism.
Edgmon was off duty and admittedly drunk when he approached a group of males outside the Ernie Biggs Piano Bar. He asked them to stop "blowing weed in my face."
Edgmon saw the camera and waved to it. He took out his police badge and said "Get out of my f---ing face. Get this illegal product, f---ing jigaboo s--- out of my f---ing face."
While Edgmon testified that he didn't know "jigaboo" was a racially offensive word, Police Chief Stuart Thomas said he "didn't have a question in (his) mind" that Edgmon knew that it was offensive."
The Little Rock Civil Service Commission reduced Edgmon's firing to a suspension, but the Police Department went to Pulaski County Circuit Court and had the firing reinstated.
Edgmon took the case to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, arguing that in the 1990s, an officer came to a Fraternal Order of Police Halloween party in blackface, wearing an Afro wig and coveralls and carrying a watermelon. He was suspended for 30 days.
In an opinion written by Judge Larry D. Vaught, the appeals court ruled that the lower court properly excluded Edgmon's evidence of that incident as "too distant in time."
"We agree that the probative value of an event that occurred 20 years prior, under a different administration, is minimal, and refusal of the evidence does not amount to a manifest abuse of discretion," he wrote.