Captain Clay Higgins, a Louisiana cop known for his outspoken commentary during his department’s Crime Stoppers videos, has resigned his position. Higgins said he chose to step down rather than compromise his position, KLFY (LaFayette, Louisiana) is reporting.
Higgins, a cop within the Saint Landry (Louisiana) Parish Sheriff’s Department, and the department’s Crime Stoppers spokesman, became a viral video sensation in July 2015, when he appeared in a Crime Stoppers segment featuring his rather unique approach to law enforcement.
In the video, Higgins, speaking directly to a wanted suspect, promised to arrest him, put him a small cell, and then “have a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke, and leave a nice tip for the waitress,” while the perp’s next meal would be served through a small hole in the cell door.
Higgins’ outspoken style earned him nickname “Cajun John Wayne,” and he became a viral hero, even winding up on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
In his videos, Clay Higgins could be counted on to say exactly what was on his mind and nothing less. He called wanted fugitives colorful names like “Bullethead” and “Mr. Dumb and Mr. Dumber.” He even quoted The Bible.
“The treasures of wickedness profit nothing!”
In perhaps his most controversial video — or at least, the one that would ultimately cause his undoing — Higgins had some choice words for members of a local street gang known as The Gremlins. In the video, Higgins referred to the suspects, as “thugs” and “animals,” “uneducated punks,” and other invectives. Then, he made what some observers took as unnecessary threats.
“If you raise your weapon to a man like me, we will return fire with superior fire.”
That particular video got Higgins even more attention, but not in a good way. According to KATC Lafayette, Louisiana, family members of the suspects, as well as community activists, took exception to Higgins’ rather direct descriptions of their loved ones.
“My son is a human being not an animal,” said Coretta Williams, mother of one of the suspects.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was similarly unimpressed with Higgins’ bravado, according to The Advocate. Marjorie Esman of the Louisiana ACLU suggested that Higgins’ approach to law enforcement lacked restraint.
“He says, ‘You will be hunted.’ We don’t hunt people in this country.”
However, it wasn’t the suspects, their families, community leaders, or the ACLU that pushed Higgins out of his job. That distinction goes to Higgins’ own boss, Saint Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz.
In a statement, Guidroz said that it wasn’t the Gremlins video that was the straw that broke the camel’s back; rather, it was Higgins’ ongoing history of a lack of professionalism in the Crime Stoppers videos, his appearance – in uniform – on a magazine cover without his boss’ permission and, perhaps worst of all, his refusal to follow orders.
“My orders to Higgins was to ‘tone down’ his unprofessional comments on our weekly Crime Stoppers messages… I repeatedly told him to stop saying things like, ‘you have no brain cells,’ or making comments that were totally disrespectful and demeaning.”
In a Monday press conference in front of the parish courthouse, Higgins said that he would “rather die” than sacrifice his principles, and thus, he was stepping down.
“I will not kneel to violent street gangs. I will not kneel to murderers or the parents that raised them. I will not kneel to a discredited, wanna-be, black activist that doesn’t really have the best interest of his people in mind, who just wants to make a profit.”
Higgins will continue his night job as a spokesperson for a local ambulance company.
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