A southern California mayor resigned after making a racist statement about black Americans killed by police officers.
Temecula Mayor James Stewart apologized and tried to explain his statement in an email, in which he claimed he didn’t “believe there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer” locally, reported The Press-Enterprise.
“Unfortunately I did not take the time to proofread what was recorded,” Stewart told the newspaper. “I absolutely did not say that. What I said is, and I don’t believe there has ever been a person of color murdered by police, on context to Temecula or Riverside County. I absolutely did not say ‘good.’ I have no idea how that popped up.”
Stewart claimed that he was responding to an individual concerned about sensitivity training by the city’s officers in the midst of nationwide protests over police brutality.
“You have every right to be hurt and offended,” Stewart said in a statement. “My typos and off-the-cuff response to an email on a serious topic added pain at a time where our community, and our country, is suffering.”
“I may not be the best writer and I sometimes misspeak,” he added, “but I am not racist.”
Stewart, who moved to California from Illinois in 1991, said he did not remember the 1998 shooting of Tyisha Miller, who was killed by Riverside police as she sat in a car with a pistol in her lap.
Miller’s family had called police for help because she appeared to be unconscious and in need of medical care.
Black people account for about 7 percent of Riverside County’s population but nearly 18 percent of the deaths while in law enforcement custody.
“I have several good friends who are African Americans, and they love living here because how safe it is for them and their families,” Stewart said in the email.