A recording depicts a North Carolina sheriff, Jody Greene, threatening to fire Black officers.
The audio was said to be recorded in 2019 by a sheriff's captain who's now running against Greene.
In a statement, Greene denied "any racial intent or actions on my part."
A sheriff in North Carolina is said to have resigned from a state sheriffs organization after he was caught on tape threatening to fire Black officers in his department.
"I'm sick of it. I'm sick of these Black bastards," Jody Greene said in the recording, obtained by the local NBC affiliate WECT. "I'm going to clean house and be done with it. And we'll start from there."
A different local outlet, WITN, reported that Greene, the sheriff of Columbus County in the southeastern part of the state, had resigned from the sheriffs group, the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association.
The audio obtained by WECT depicted a conversation said to have taken place in February 2019 between Greene and Jason Soles, a captain in the sheriff's department at the time who is now running against Greene in this year's Columbus County sheriff's election. Both Soles and Greene are white.
Greene won a close race for sheriff in 2018 against the incumbent Lewis Hatcher, but Greene faced public challenges over his eligibility, and Hatcher sued to remain sheriff while Greene's eligibility was investigated.
The compromise was for Soles to become acting sheriff during the investigation, and Soles told WECT that he began receiving late-night phone calls from Greene soon after that happened.
In Soles' telling, Greene thought someone in the sheriff's department was leaking information to Hatcher or a recently fired sergeant named Melvin Campbell. Both Hatcher and Campbell are Black.
Soles told WECT that he started recording one of the conversations between him and Greene after Greene made a comment saying he hated Black Democrats.
"Tomorrow's going to be a new fucking day. I'm still the motherfucking sheriff, and I'll go up and fire every goddamn [inaudible]. Fuck them Black bastards. They think I'm scared? They're stupid," Greene said in the audio obtained by WECT. "I don't know what else to do it. So it's just time to clean them out. There's a snitch in there somewhere telling what we are doing. And I'm not going to have it. I'm not going to have it."
In the recording, Greene appeared to threaten to fire anyone associated with his political opponents.
"We'll cut the snake's head fucking off," Greene said. "Period. And Melvin Campbell is as big a snake as Lewis Hatcher ever dared to be. Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he's a snake."
WECT said that it had contacted Soles after a reporter got a tip about the recording's existence and that Soles only reluctantly agreed to an interview. It cited him as saying he and his supporters had first sought to bring the recording to the attention of various state and local officials.
Columbus County Attorney Jon David told WECT that he learned about the recording for the first time on September 26 and that Greene's comments were not a criminal violation but did raise concerns over the prospect of biased policing.
Greene argued in a statement that Soles altered the phone recording to further his campaign.
"The video has been altered to give Jason Soles' audience a distorted and misleading view Solely intended to further his campaign," Greene said in the statement. "As shown on the screen, the phone conversation lasted over 8 minutes. Jason only submitted 6 minutes of video to WECT for viewing, indicating the video has been altered."
"In my opinion, Jason's intent with the recording was to further incite racial division and to use the racial division to pursue his personal agenda of a political run for office," Greene said in the statement.
Greene also denied "any racial intent or actions on my part."
"I acknowledge there were racial tensions during the 2018 certification of the election and that the media and some members in the community were referring to the two political sides as black and white," Greene said.
Correction: October 3, 2022 — An earlier version of this story misstated the position from which Jody Greene resigned. Greene resigned from a state-level sheriffs organization, not as sheriff.
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