The president of the Tempe police union offered support Sunday for a sergeant under scrutiny for a televised exchange in which he told two black men they could perform a rap to avoid a ticket for littering.
Officer Bryan Hall, of the Tempe Officers Association, said a local TV segment showing the exchange between Sgt. Chuck Schoville and the two men was taken out of context.
Schoville was the host of the city-produced show which filmed police on the job.
The latest episode made headlines worldwide late last week after two black community leaders voiced outrage over it, prompting the city to investigate the video and the people involved in its production. The show also was pulled off the air.
Hall, who also was featured on the same airing of the local cable-access TV show “Tempe StreetBeat,” said Schoville “just wanted to make it clear that he was trying to bridge a gap with two young adults.”
Hall, along with officer and show producer Brandon Banks, claims the scene in the video was “staged,” although the footage contains nothing to indicate that is the case.
City leaders already have made apologies, and on Sunday, Hall added one more, apologizing on behalf of the union because some people were offended.
Before the show was pulled, the same segment showing the exchange was aired repeatedly, six days a week throughout November.
It showed Schoville making the deal with the two men, as well as joking with them, saying, “I’ve got a gun and a badge. I’m always right.”
The footage angered black leaders, including Rev. Jarrett Maupin of the National Action Network and Rev. Oscar Tillman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who called the scene humiliating.
They have since accepted the city leaders’ apologies, but await the outcome of the investigation, which may conclude as early as this week.
The city has not released the names of the two men in the footage. Hall has not been named as part of the investigation.
On Sunday, Tempe’s Mayor Hugh Hallman appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” news show and strongly condemned the video. He said the incident was unusual — for police and Schoville.
“It is absolutely unacceptable in professional policing to offer quid pro quo,” Hallman said.
He added: “Our professional police officers do not behave this way. Chuck Schoville does not behave this way.”
Schoville had been scheduled to talk to the media and local black leaders today, but abruptly canceled late Sunday. Hall said he did not know why Schoville decided not to speak.