Detroit Official Is Being Investigated for Racial Slurs

The city’s chief financial officer has apologized for comments that he made that drew complaints from staffers.

Posted: 10/11/2013 10:38 AM EDT

A top official appointed by Detroit’s emergency financial manager is the subject of an investigation for accusations that he made racially insensitive statements that degraded Black women and joked about shooting “someone in a hoodie.”

The official, Jim Bonsall, was appointed as the city’s chief financial officer by Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager. Bonsall issued an apology on Thursday, after city officials said they would conduct an investigation.

"I apologize and am sorry for having offended coworkers over comments I made during a recent meeting," Bonsall said in a statement. "Regardless of the outcome of the internal investigation or whether I keep my job as a result of it, it was never my intention to offend anyone."

The incident is a highly embarrassing one in the tenure of Orr, who was appointed earlier this year by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to take charge of Detroit’s ailing finances. Orr suspended Bonsall, who is white, with pay while the investigation is being conducted.

The controversy began earlier in the week when the city’s treasurer, Cheryl Johnson, complained about Bonsall in a letter to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. She accused the chief financial officer of having “demonstrated a pattern of behavior that has created a hostile work environment." She said that his actions were "more pronounced with minority women.”

Johnson, who is Black, was downgraded from the position of Detroit’s finance director to city treasurer last week.

She has compared the way she has been treated as being similar to the “family and friends plan that existed under the Kilpatrick administration,” referring to former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The former mayor was sentenced on Thursday to 28 years in prison for corruption.

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(Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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