Louisiana State Police Failed to Reprimand Trooper for Using Racial Slur, Agency’s Troubling Record on Race Goes Back Decades

A photo believed to be of Louisiana State Police Officer August McKay, who in 2017 called a Black trooper the “N word.” Courtesy of Gary Chambers on Facebook.

On September 3, WBRZ reported that Louisiana State Trooper August McKay referred to a black colleague as a “fucking n—er” in 2017. 

The Louisiana State Police investigated the incident and wrote a letter of reprimand that WBRZ called a “slap on the wrist.” However, even that minuscule punishment never reached McKay’s desk. 

Instead, a federal task force removed Mr. McKay.

Louisiana State Police, however, now have him working as an undercover narcotics agent in New Orleans. 

Once news of this broke, the Baton Rouge NAACP quickly called for the removal of McKay from the Louisiana State Police, but so far nothing has happened. 

Mr. McKay was never disciplined for using this racial slur which shows a complete breakdown of leadership and oversight within the Louisiana State Police,” the NAACP said in pertinent part. 

“It is clear that there are structural injustices within the Louisiana State Police and every single administrator who knew about this injustice should be disciplined. Colonel Kevin Reaves [sic], you’ve failed us, and we hope that you work alongside us to restore trust in the Louisiana State Police.”

The NAACP is also calling for the District Attorney to review all investigations, arrests, and convictions of people of color that Officer McKay was part of, to determine if their convictions should be overturned.

Colonel Kevin Reeves, the Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police since 2017, signed the reprimand and sent it to Troop L Captain, Colonel John Riles, who took no further action. According to WBRZ, Colonel Riles was just promoted to a Major several weeks ago. 

The letter of reprimand issued – but never sent – to Officer McKay, Page 1. Courtesy of Gary Chambers on Facebook.


Page 2 of the letter of reprimand, which never left Captain John Riles’s desk. Courtesy of Gary Chambers on Facebook.

The Advocate reported that Governor John Bel Edwards said he was “appalled” and “disappointed” by McKay’s actions and inaction by the Louisiana State Police. He said that Colonel Reeves (the same person responsible for the inaction) assured him that safeguards were now in place to prevent this from happening again. 

Governor Edwards did not elaborate on what these alleged safeguards were. 

Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers also weighed in on this act of racist non-action. 

“They’ve let this racist continue to be a trooper. He’s undercover in New Orleans. Shameful. Disgusting,” Mr. Chambers wrote on Facebook yesterday. “Governor Edwards needs to have him removed from state police.”

While Governor Edwards and the Louisiana State Police express confidence that this was a case of a bad apple, the state troopers are not strangers to racial incidents. 

Two years ago, the Advocate reported that racial hostilities among the LSP have reached a “boiling point,” according to an anonymous letter sent to the Louisiana State Police Commission and media.

The letter spoke of a decades-long trend of “largely ignor[ing]” black employees at the state police. 

A few weeks before the letter was sent, a black trooper in Lake Charles complained that his white colleagues referred to him as “Django.” The Louisiana State Police later found the name to be non derogatory, despite the film “Django Unchained” having been released six years prior. The character Django, in that movie, referred to a freed slave in America who took revenge on his captors. 

The Advocate story, written by Jim Mustian, did not spare Captain Kevin Reeves, who “faced mounting criticism for the glaring lack of minorities and women serving in upper-level management positions.” 

The article mentions that Black and female representation among the LSP is “impermissibly low”; only 16 percent of the force was black and a staggering four percent were women. 

Also according to the Advocate, the U.S. Justice Department investigated the Louisiana State Police in the 1990s. According to the Advocate:

“[The Justice Department] essentially accused it of institutionalizing a good-old-boy network. The inquiry found a pattern of employment discrimination and alleged that black and female troopers had been ‘subjected to derogatory, racist and sexist comments’ by ‘colleagues and supervisors without appropriate action by responsible officials.’”

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