On Wednesday (July 20), Mississippi police chief Sam Dobbins was fired after authorities received audio of him bragging about shooting Black people. In the recordings, the white police chief was also heard making homophobic and racist remarks. For now, investigator Charles Henderson will take on the role of interim chief, according to Jackson local news station WLBT.
The nearly 16-minute conversation was recorded by Robert Lee Hooker in April. Hooker, a Black man, is a former officer who worked with Dobbins at the Lexington Police Department. A report from The Washington Post states Hooker resigned last week due to a toxic work environment. In the audio, Dobbins spoke about people he killed during his time as an officer. “I’ve killed 13 men in my career, justified,” he says in the recordings. “In my line of duty, I have shot and killed 13 different people,” he adds.
He goes on to tell Hooker about a time when he shot a Black man to save “67 kids in a school.” Dobbins says, “I shot that nigger 119 times, okay?” He continued, “The vehicle was shot 319 times, but he was hit 119 times by me.” A paralegal named Cardell Wright who works for the civil rights organization JULIAN received Hooker’s audio. “Once we heard it, I was just appalled and angry. Just to see the hatred in your own backyard was disturbing. We knew we had to do something immediately,” he shared.
JULIAN Founder and President Jill Collen Jefferson added, “The corruption we’re seeing here is on a scale I haven’t seen since the civil rights movement.” She continued, “This audio is damning. It’s not just a reflection of one officer. It’s a reflection of an entire culture of policing, and it should spur Congress to finally rein in this modern-day slave patrol. A culture like this does not deserve immunity.” As for Dobbins, he denies that he took part in the conversation. “I don’t talk like that,” he claimed.