The man known as the "Cajun John Wayne" is hanging up his badge for the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, insisting he was not forced to resign despite the controversy from his viral online videos.
Clay Higgins said on the steps of the St. Landry Parish Courthouse on Monday he was resigning as a captain in the Sheriff's Office "as a matter of conscience," citing his faith as a primary motivator for moving on, reports CBS affiliate WWL in New Orleans.
"I begin each day on bended knee, but I kneel to our savior," he said. "I will not kneel to violent street gangs, I will not kneel to murderers or the parents who raised them. I will not kneel to a discredited wannabe black activist that doesn't really have the best interest of his people in mind. I will not kneel to bureaucrats from Washington, Baton Rouge or anywhere else."
He said he would not sacrifice is principles, which he would've been forced to do if he had not quit.
"I would die rather than sacrifice my principles," Higgins said. "If I would sacrifice my life for my principles, surely you understand I must sacrifice my job."
Higgins had gained national fame for hosting a weekly "Crime Stoppers" segment for a local news show, where his tough talk earned him the "John Wayne" nickname.
While details are scarce, there was apparently some friction between Sheriff Bobby Guidroz and Higgins over the direction of his videos. Higgins had come under fire recently from the ACLU for a particularly tough-talking video that called out "The Gremlins Gang," reports WWL.
In the video, Higgins, referred to the suspects as "animals," "thugs" and "heathens," words that have sparked a heated debate. The tough-talking sheriff's deputy appeared completely unbowed by the controversy on Monday.
"I love my sheriff and I admire him," Higgins said. "I respect him. He's a good man with a good heart. Although I'd take a bullet for my sheriff, I cannot abide by his current orders. I'm sorry I just can't."
In one of his famous earlier videos, Higgins spoke directly to thieves who robbed a store for cigarettes.
"If you're one of these idiots, pay attention son, and try to focus and listen to your elder," he said in the video. "What you fellas are is the Virginia Slim gang cause you're certainly not Marlboro men."
Higgins' home base is in Opelousas, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun country, famous for its music, cooking and culture.
But Higgins said there's not a drop of Cajun in him.
Before he was chasing suspects, the New Orleans native was chasing money.
"I had the trapping of success. I was -- I had money," he said. "I was a very successful businessman, but wasn't fulfilled in my spirit and I knew there was another path for me."
That path, he said, led him to law enforcement.
"I went from a job making $144,000 a year to making $8 an hour as a cop," he said.
Higgins said his message comes from the heart and his own experience as a less-than-perfect person.
"Not only did I do things wrong, but you better start early, pack a lunch and bring batteries for your flashlight if you intend to go back in my history and find everything I've done wrong," he said. "Now that I've got some kind of weird--ah-- celebrity status, people are going to dig into my past. Bring a shovel; you might need an excavator."