Mississippi police officer loses job after telling man to ‘go back to Mexico’

Jun 6, 2024, 3:12 PM

RICHLAND, Miss. (AP) — A white Mississippi police officer has lost his job after telling a Hispanic man to “go back to Mexico” while the officer was responding to a disturbance at a home.

The officer resigned after he was “relieved of duty” for using “derogatory slurs,” Richland Police Chief Adrian Ready said in a statement Wednesday.

“This type of language is not only unacceptable, but it also undermines the trust and respect that we work hard to build within our community,” Ready said.

The officer, Jeremy Rast, responded to a home disturbance call Sunday with other officers in Richland, a Jackson suburb. Rast told WLBT-TV that the officers exchanged words with a group of men across the road.

WLBT reported that it had obtained video that one of the men, Luis Rodriguez, made of Rast talking to him.

“Like, why don’t you go back to Mexico or something,” Rast said on the video. “Like, whatever. I don’t care. Just get the f—- out of Richland for me, please. … I do not like y’all being here.”

Rodriguez replied that he did not like officers being on his property. Rast responded that Rodriguez cannot legally own property, adding, “you’re illegal.”

Rast also told Rodriguez: “I’m going look for you every shift to try to arrest you.”

Rodriguez and Rast both told WLBT that they had encountered each other previously.

Rodriguez said he is a native of Honduras and a graduate of Richland High School. Rodriguez said because of the statements made by Rast, he is preparing to move out of Mississippi. He said he’s concerned he will be targeted by others in law enforcement.

“Even though he got fired, there might be still some more police officers who think of us like him,” Rodriguez said.

Rast told WLBT he spoke harshly out of frustration with Rodriguez.

“I did make some comments that were inappropriate and unprofessional, I take full responsibility for that,” Rast said. “(I’m) not proud of what I said.”

Rast also said he wants to continue a law enforcement career.

Richland is in Rankin County, where five former sheriff’s department officers and a former Richland police officer pleaded guilty to breaking into a home without a warrant and torturing two Black men in an hourslong attack that included beatings, repeated uses of stun guns and assaults with a sex toy before one of the victims was shot in the mouth. Those six former officers — some of whom called themselves the Goon Squad — were sentenced on federal charges in March and state charges in April.

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Mississippi police officer loses job after telling man to ‘go back to Mexico’