VILLA RICA, Ga. - An apology issued from the Villa Rica police chief after photos show an image of a Black man used as target practice during a training seminar.
The images that were posted to the department’s Facebook page caused outrage in the community, resulting in hundreds of comments on the department's Facebook page.
"Perception is reality," Michael Mansour said
Villa Rica Police Chief Michael Mansour apologized after the department posted photos from the seminar to its Facebook page.
"Although nothing was intended by posting the pictures of videos that depicted an African-American male on the target, people can take it as being racial or discriminatory," Mansour said.
"If you notice SQT on them, that means state qualifying targets. These are the targets we use to qualify officers," Mansour said.
The chief said these are targets that are used across the state for exams for officers.
Mansour knows this could create distrust with minorities in the community he is sworn to protect and serve.
"I think the biggest thing we are going to do is continue the programs we offer, work with the minorities especially, and be involved with them," Mansour said.
"They are upset. They are in disbelief. They feel as if they are not seen or heard," Carroll County NAACP President Dominique Conteh said.
Conteh says the images were tone-deaf.
"I don’t think you should have any human being as a target whether they are Black, white, Asian," Conteh said.
Conteh wants the police chief to meet with minority leaders to make sure nothing like this happens again.
"Accountability matters. An apology is unacceptable. This is more than an apology because what happens is that this is a catalyst. It’s an underlying issue. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back," Conteh said.
The mayor of Villa Rica issued this statement:
"I’d like to speak to you about the offensive post on the Villa Rica Police Department Facebook page that so many have commented on. I am personally embarrassed by it, and as soon as it was brought to my attention last night, I and other city staff began to address this situation.
"This administration will be asking our human resources director and the city attorney to select an outside organization to review how this entire incident came about, not just the post itself.
"Meanwhile, we are removing the video and images from the post, but I have directed that the comments to remain so that people can freely express their opinions about it.
"This incident does not reflect the values of this community and I will keep you informed as this process continues."
The police chief told FOX 5 he will switch to a silhouette target for residents taking classes and training.
The state NAACP has issued a statement condemning the post and calling for answers.