An Arkansas sheriff resigned Friday after coming under fire over a leaked racist recording.
Sheriff Todd Wright of Arkansas County, about 85 miles southeast of Little Rock, resigned effective immediately on Friday during a public meeting on the incident at the county’s Quorum Court, which is its governing legislative body.
The meeting, which was recorded live and posted on Facebook, was held after a local news outlet, the Pine Bluff Commercial, identified Wright as the man heard in a five-minute audio recording delivering a racist rant.
According to the local outlet, Wright is heard on the recording, which has been widely shared on social media, becoming upset that a woman he was with spoke to a Black person in a store.
Throughout the recording, the woman refers to the man as “Todd.” The man in the recording uses a racial slur against Black people about nine times.
Wright apologized at the court meeting for any offense his recorded remarks may have caused and said that he made those comments in the heat of the moment when he was “upset over certain things.”
He also insisted he was not racist.
“That’s not me,” he said.
Following his remarks, a woman who identified herself as the mother of the man Wright disparaged in the recording said she doesn’t know why Wright felt the need to call her son, whom she described as a hardworking man with two jobs, “names like that” over and over.
“I don’t appreciate you calling him or anybody else the N-word,” she said. “If you got problems, don’t bring them to work.”
County Judge Thomas Best said the court’s members decided Thursday to ask for Wright’s resignation after the recording began circulating on Facebook the day before.
“It saddens me that anyone would disrespect God’s creation in this manner,” Best said at the meeting. “No way will I condone this action from anyone.”
After accepting Wright’s resignation, the court also passed a motion to allow him to continue to be paid as contract labor until Sept. 30, but he will not be an active law enforcement officer.
The county’s chief deputy will serve as sheriff until a replacement is appointed or a special election is held, Best said.
Attempts to reach Wright by phone and through social media on Saturday were not immediately successful.
The Associated Press contributed.