Justice

An Alabama Cop Kept His Job After He Threatened to Murder a Black Man

In May of 2013, Alexander City, Alabama police officer Troy Middlebrooks was secretly recorded proposing the murder of a black resident, saying that he could hide evidence in order to make the proposed killing look like it was in self-defense, according to a report published by the Guardian Tuesday morning.

But after Vincent Bias, the man Middlebrooks proposes killing in the recording, played the tape to the Alexander City police chief and mayor, the officer was allowed to keep his job, and the city paid Bias $35,000 in a private settlement to avoid publicly being sued, according to the report. In the recording, Middlebrooks can be heard saying that [Bias], whom he allegedly referred to as "that nigger" off tape, "needs a god damn bullet."


The report documents explicitly an officer who appears to make threats against Bias in comments to Bias' brother-in-law, who began recording after Middlebrooks allegedly told him that "the police were going to pull [Bias] aside on a routine traffic stop and [bia] would get killed." Middlebrooks was responding to an unleashed dog violation, but was allegedly upset that Bias, whom he had earlier arrested on drug charges, was out on bail. Middlebrooks also accused Bias of an illegal electricity connection, and made the comments on the recording after suggesting that Bias had been acting abusively towards his family.

Middlebrooks' comments were made as he told Bias' brother-in-law what he would do were he in the relative's position, saying that he would "fucking kill that mother fucker with whatever I had in that fucking house... And before the police got here, I'd fucking put marks all over my shit and make it look like he was trying to fucking kill me. I god damn guarantee you," he is heard saying. "What would it look like? Self fucking defense. Fuck that piece of shit. I'm a lot different from a lot of these other folks. I'll fucking tell you what's on my fucking mind."

Alexander City police chief Willie Robinson told the Guardian that "[Middlebrooks] was just talking," and said that the officer "was disciplined" following the incident.

According to the city attorney, the decision to settle the lawsuit was made by the city's insurers, but city councilors interviewed by the paper were alarmed by the case, which one council member said could be "potential grounds for termination."

The Guardian notes that Middlebrooks was the first Alexander City officer to arrive on the scene following the deadly shooting of Emerson Crayton Jr, an unarmed Black man, by officer Tommy Maness in March of last year. Attorneys for Crayton's family filed a federal lawsuit against Maness and the department, which included Bias' lawsuit as evidence suggesting a pattern of wrongdoing by the city.

The Alexander City police chief did not return ATTN:'s request for comment Tuesday morning.

According to the Guardian, Eric Hutchins, Alabama's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a lawyer for Bias, said the case "requires an immediate investigation" by state officials, calling Middlebrooks' remarks "unprofessional and inappropriate[.]"