Clayton investigator apologizes, resigns over offensive comments

An investigator with the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office resigned Wednesday with a letter of apology for a comment he posted on a Facebook page that some found offensive.

Investigator David Daniel’s comment in social media involved the shooting of a child in southeast Atlanta over the weekend. In those few sentences, Daniel put the shooting of the 1-year-old boy in racial terms.

“The words written giving rise to my resignation are not symptomatic of David Daniel’s heart, head or history,” Daniel wrote in his letter. “While they are words of my hands, they were written out of a father’s outrage and frustration at a world where a baby cannot be safe from gunfire in his own home. I dealt with those emotions poorly. I can only imagine a parent’s fear that she or he cannot provide a safe environment for his or her child.”

Daniel wrote Sunday night that “violence with guns is unfortunately a part of the black culture and will never get better until the government stops supporting them and they are taught to work for what they get and not take from others.”

The posting on Channel 2 Action News’ Facebook page was a response to a news story about Rodrickus Robinson who was struck by a stray bullet in the parking lot of a southeast Atlanta apartment complex Saturday night. The child was shot in the arm and is recovering in the hospital. One person has been arrested in the shooting.

“Though the intent of words was benign, the impact of them was not,” Daniel wrote. “I understand the hurtful impact that my co-workers and others felt from them…. I sincerely hope that they can find it in their hearts to remember me with fondness despite the last few days.”

When the posting appeared Sunday night, Daniel’s career with the Clayton DA’s Office ended.

District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson notified him Monday morning that she intended to fire him for using “racially derogatory terms ” and “wantonly offensive conduct” in a comment he made on the internet.

Daniel took down his comments and offered to explain in a subsequent posting.

“Welfare was first created to assist families in need but has developed into a long-term income. Those that have no ambition to do any better for themselves and end up in neighborhoods where this sort of behavior is all too common. I am glad the child did not end up a fatality and a statistic.”

Daniel’s personnel file indicates he was a good employee, with a spotless record, for the office for 12 years.

Lawson would not speak about Daniel’s situation because it is a personnel matter. But, she said, public comments by DA’s office employees have bearing on their jobs even if they are spoken or written in their roles as private citizens.

“It will not be tolerated,” Lawson said Tuesday. “All employees in this office understand what they do on duty and off duty reflects upon this agency and they need to govern themselves accordingly. No form of hatred or prejudice or ill-will toward one group will be tolerated by me or those in my office. It will be met with instantaneous consequences.”

Daniel asked Lawson to distribute his resignation letter to the staff.

“I sincerely apologize,” Daniel wrote.

Channel 2 WSB-TV and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are part of Cox Media Group, a unit of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises.

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