Florida sheriff's deputy Jacob Desue resigned following an incident in which he held a pregnant Black woman at gunpoint during a traffic stop in front of her children.
The incident took place earlier this month in a rural area near Gainesville, Florida in Bradford County. Once the deputy activated his lights and siren, Ebony Washington slowed down, turned on her hazard lights and proceeded to a well-lit area.
State driver education manuals across the United States advise this is the acceptable way to respond in a potentially unsafe situation.
Washington was so frightened by Deputy Desue's repeated death threats she asked her 17- and 10-year-old children to record what happened to her.
Washington's one-year-old was also in the car.
Sheriff's Deputy Desue's dashcam and bodycam were also on. Washington's children can be heard crying from inside the car as he berates Washington and threatens her with bodily harm.
Washington's children's video can be seen below.
The incident began when Desue saw Washington allegedly speeding on a dark stretch of rural Florida road around midnight.
Washington immediately put on her hazard lights to signal she intended to pull over—as seen on Desue's dashcam—then continued driving about a mile to a well-lit gas station where she and her children would feel more comfortable. Desue can be heard on dashcam yelling to pull over or he would "put [her] in the ground."
When they arrived at the gas station, Desue exited his vehicle with gun drawn and began immediately screaming at Washington to get out of her vehicle. Desue issued what has struck many as another death threat.
"You make any movement, that will be your last mistake you're gonna make."
Washington tried to explain to him why she continued driving to the gas station. Desue interrupted to tell her to "shut up."
He could be heard saying:
"I don't care about the why, just shut up about the why."
Washington also notified Desue she was four months pregnant, afraid he would push her to the ground.
You can see a follow-up interview with Washington and Desue's dash and bodycam footage here:
Washington told ABC News she was able to stay calm only because she was afraid Desue would kill her.
"I didn't give him a reason for him to harm me in front of my children. And so my calmness really just came in because I was afraid for my life."
Speaking to ABC, Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith said he pulled Desue's bodycam footage after seeing Washington's children's cellphone video online.
He took Washington's side in the incident, telling ABC she did precisely what he'd want his family members to do in a similar situation by going to a well-lit area.
"She explained to him that, you know, she's flashing lights to get to a lit area."
"OK, well, that's what I want my wife to do. It's what I want my daughter to do, it's what I would want my neighbor to do if you feel unsafe."
Desue's colleague, Bradford County Chief Deputy Brad Smith, also revealed Desue has a history of conduct issues.
At the time of the incident with Washington, Desue was in a "last chance agreement," a disciplinary program in which an officer is required to resign if he or she has any further issues within the following year.
Deputy Smith confirmed the Bradford County Sheriff's Department accepted Desue's resignation as part of this program and called Desue's conduct "intolerable" "verbal abuse."
On Twitter, people were appalled by the incident.
Washington's attorney John Phillips says he plans to pursue every legal avenue available.
He told ABC Washington's incident was a clear case of "racial bias."
Chief Deputy Brad Smith rejects this however, claiming Desue is "a man of color" making racial bias impossible.