A Pennsylvania police chief was suspended for three days without pay after being seen in a viral video ranting at a pregnant Black lady and harassing her after a fight at a pharmacy.
The incident involving Homestead police chief Jeff Desimone and Kamahlai Stewart, an expectant Black mother, drew national outrage after the video went viral, according to Newsweek. On Thursday, August 19, the Homestead local borough council announced Desimone’s suspension.
Desimone is seen in the footage of the altercation at the Giant Eagle drugstore last week going on an aggressive rant and telling Stewart to leave the pharmacy despite the fact that she hasn’t been served. Desimone demanded to be served ahead of Stewart, which caused a dispute. At the time of the event, the police chief was dressed in mufti and driving an unmarked automobile.
In an interview with WPXI, Stewart said Desimone began ranting at her shortly after he turned on the unmarked vehicle’s police lights. She also stated that she was present at the time of the occurrence with her son.
“What were you thinking putting myself, my unborn child, and my sick 5-year-old kid in such danger?” Stewart remarked. “I was taken aback, shocked. I can’t believe you, of all people—you’re the police chief—turned on your lights and tried to intimidate me. That was a complete misuse of power.”
The Black mother filmed a video of the altercation when the police chief allegedly began yelling expletives before calling for assistance. The cop was also seen ranting at a drugstore staff who he had a problem with.
Despite the backlash, Desimone played down the incident, stating it was the result of a “little quarrel.” The law enforcement officer further claimed that his employment and position warranted him being given first priority in the pharmacy.
However, during Thursday’s council meeting, a group of Black locals claimed that this isn’t the first time the police chief has misbehaved. They also demanded that he be fired rather than temporarily relieved of his duties, according to Newsweek. Stewart and her husband have also stated that Desimone should be stripped of his duties, despite the fact that his suspension was only a “start.”
Mayor Betty Esper of Homestead, on the other hand, had a different viewpoint. “Everyone has their own personality,” Esper told WPXI. “He’s been here for 20 years or so. Come on, he’s never abused anyone before. Every narrative has two sides as well.”