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Black officer targeted by police chief with KKK note speaks out: "Demeaning and destructive"

Black cop target of KKK note files complaint
Black cop target of KKK note files complaint 05:42

A Black police officer who made national headlines after his police chief was caught on camera placing a note with the words "Ku Klux Klan" on his raincoat says the incident was part of a pattern of discrimination at their police department in Ohio. 

In June, surveillance video captured the then-chief of the Sheffield Lake Police Department, Anthony Campo Sr., putting a piece of paper with the note on Officer Keith Pool's raincoat. Pool, the only Black officer in his department, described his reaction in an interview with "CBS Mornings."

"People thought I was laughing about it. I wasn't laughing," Pool told CBS News lead national correspondent David Begnaud.

"I was distraught — like, 'What do I do with this, man?' He's sitting right there smiling," Pool said. "And I'm like, 'Are you serious?' And then he tells everybody else to come look and see what he did."

Pool, who had been on the job for just nine months, said Campo also grabbed a piece of newspaper and turned it into a cone-shaped hat made to resemble a KKK hood, a scene that was also captured on video, and told him he needed to wear one of those on his next call.

"It was so demeaning and destructive to me. I didn't know what else to do," Pool said.

Mayor Dennis Bring confronted Campo about the incident.

"The chief was standing in his office and he made a joke, 'Am i going to get fired over this?'" Bring told CBS News. "I looked at the law director and I said, 'Hand him his paper,' and he said, 'After 30 years, this is what I get?' I said, 'You have 10 minutes to get out of your office.'"

Campo is no longer on the job, but he was not fired. He reportedly said he was able to retire after 32 years at the department, eight of those as chief. 

Campo has not publicly denied what happened, but the mayor said Campo told him it was a joke. A man who looked like Campo refused to speak with "CBS Mornings" when contacted at his home. 

Pool and his attorney, Ashlie Case Sletvold, said there was a pattern of discrimination orchestrated by the former chief. The officer said Campo once posted an altered picture of Pool depicted as the Grim Reaper, with the headline, "Raccoon Reaper." Pool said the chief also publicly posted a picture of a hot sauce bottle with the face of the department's only Latino officer.

Pool has filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and his attorney plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and the former chief.

Pool was the first Black officer in the department's 59-year history. He has served in law enforcement for 30 years, with eight of them as a school resource officer.

"I just want to help people, just want to do my job," he said. "We always have to prove ourselves in this job, being Black, being a woman... It ain't fair."

Despite the department's alleged history of discrimination, Pool said he chose to stay — partly because it has gotten better since Campo left.

"The department is not Tony Campo," Pool said. "The department is what we make it. He was just part of the department. Now that he's gone, now it's going to be a department."

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