Sheriff Todd Wright of Arkansas County abdicated his post effective immediately on Friday
An Arkansas sheriff has announced his resignation after leaked audio footage captured by the mother of his children documented him unleashing into a sickening racist tirade because she spoke to a black grocery store worker.
Sheriff Todd Wright of Arkansas County abdicated his post effective immediately on Friday after a five minute recording secretly made by his girlfriend Desiree Middlebrooks was shared widely to social media, in which Wright is heard using the N-word nine times.
The recording was apparently made months earlier when Wright reportedly became upset that Middlebrooks had spoken to the employee.
Wright called his partner a ‘n***** lover’, later adding in a rage ‘Why you got to holler at f***ing n*****s’ when I’m around?’
In a May 28 Facebook post, Wright acknowledged it was his voice in the recording, saying ‘To all I have offended or hurt I send my sincere apologies and will pray for my enemies.’
However, the digital apology was deemed insufficient and a special Quorum Court meeting was held Friday morning at the Arkansas County Courthouse to discuss Wright’s behavior and present a resolution requesting his resignation.
‘After viewing and hearing the video I was terribly upset to know that we have someone out here that’s supposed to be taking care of us, protecting and serving to have that kind of opinion of me – I’m using me as a race because of my color,’ Justice of the Peace Inez McLemore said.
A five minute recording secretly made by his girlfriend Desiree Middlebrooks was shared widely to social media, in which Wright is heard using the N-word nine times
Throughout the several-hour hearing, broadcast on Facebook, public officials, community members, activists, and at least one colleague urged Wright to resign. The court didn’t have the outright authority to fire him.
In an address to the court, slouched in his chair, Wright blamed his behavior on the devil, insisting he isn’t a racist and was angry with Middlebrooks at the time because he had missed a funeral of his friend, who was black.
He also mentioned many of his Black constituents with whom he claimed to have formed close bonds with.
‘I’m a Christian man. I read my bible every day,’ said Wright. ‘I am by no means a racist. That video does not show the true picture of me.’
However the crowd, including a woman who identified herself as the aunt of the black employee Wright’s racist vitriol was aimed at, didn’t believe him.
‘I don’t believe anything you just said,’ Betty Wofford said. ‘You have to say this stuff because you want to keep your job.’
Wright at first refused to resign, prompting half of the some 90 people in attendance to walk out from the courtroom. Several heckled him to ‘just get it over with’.
‘I’ve said things that I shouldn’t of said but as far as racism, I don’t condone it,’ Wright said in response.
He then said he would resign in a month, and finally did what the crowd requested and agreed to resign immediately after one of his former colleagues spoke.
‘Todd, I’ve known you all my life. You need to take that badge and [set] it on that table and walk out of here Todd,’ former officer Bobby Webb said. ‘You know I love you, but you screwed up. Lay that badge down, lay that gun down and walk out of here.’
Holding back tears, Wright surrendered his badge and gun and embraced Webb.
A special Quorum Court meeting was held Friday morning at the Arkansas County Courthouse to discuss Wright’s behavior and present a resolution requesting his resignation
In an address to the court, slouched in his chair, Wright blamed his behavior on the devil, insisting he isn’t a racist and was angry with Middlebrooks at the time because he had missed a funeral of his friend, who was black
In the leaked recording, Wright is heard using the n-word nine times in conversation with Middlebrooks.
In one instance, Middlebrooks is heard asking Wright, ‘why are you talking to me life that?’
Wright responds by telling her, ‘Shut-up, n***** lover…all those mother***** in that store and you’ve got to talk to the [inaudible] a** n*****right in front of me.’
Middlebrooks responds that she didn’t think it was a big deal. ‘It is a f***ing big deal. People see me and then they see you talking to n*****s,’ he responds.
‘I don’t understand why you’re so mad at me,’ Middlebrooks asks.
‘Why you got to holler at f****** n****** when I’m around,’ Wright responds.
The county Wright worked for is 25 percent black, according to Census Bureau data.
Justice of the Peace McLemore expressed the fear she had for inmates the Sheriff Department oversees.
‘If the head is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt,’ she said.
After accepting his resignation, the court also passed a motion to allow Wright to continue to be paid as contract labor until September 30, but he will not be an active law enforcement officer.
The county’s chief deputy will serve as sheriff until a replacement is appointed or a special election is held.
Middlebrooks and Wright appear to no longer be together, with the mother-of-six listing her relationship status as single on Facebook. It’s unclear how many children they share together.