A Washington state judge is facing calls to resign after he was caught on tape calling a black man fatally shot by police last year “so dumb.”
Clark County District Judge Darvin Zimmerman made the comments to another court official last week — which were captured on video and then broadcast on YouTube in adherence with the state’s open courtroom laws. The footage has since been taken down.
He referred to 21-year-old Kevin Peterson Jr., who was killed by three Clark County deputies on Oct. 29, as “the black guy they were trying to make an angel out of” and described him as “so dumb,” according to the Atlanta Black Star.
Zimmerman also alleged that Peterson’s father told a police chaplain that the shooting was justified — until he woke up the next day “with dollar signs in his eyes and George Floyd’s attorney had already contacted him.”
Before the shooting, deputies intended to arrest Peterson for an attempted drug deal. An investigation into his history also revealed social media posts “that indicated violence toward law enforcement,” The Columbian reported.
In the recording, Zimmerman referenced these posts, calling Peterson “the one that said ‘I’m a racist. I hate white people,’ so I guess he hates his girlfriend, too.”
Zimmerman then laughed while mentioning his own son — a member of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, who was on the scene of the shootout, but did not fire any shots — saying that had he been the shooter, “they’d be marching out at his house with signs saying, ‘You’re a murderer.’”
In response to Zimmerman’s comments, the Vancouver Defenders law firm called for his swift resignation while the court issued a statement condemning racism, the Atlanta Black Star reported.
“Judge Zimmerman’s conduct erodes the public’s confidence in our judicial system. A judge’s independence, integrity, and impartiality are paramount in making our system work. When a Judge fails to uphold the canons of his profession he is no longer fit to serve. Judge Zimmerman should resign,” the Vancouver Defenders statement read.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman told The Columbian that Peterson’s death is a “tragedy” — but did not acknowledge his recorded statements or issue an apology.