Ga. police department apologizes after target practice photos cause uproar
“It was never our intention to be insensitive, inflammatory, or offensive to anyone," Villa Rica Police Department said
By Tanasia Kenney
The Charlotte Observer
VILLA RICA, Ga. — A shooting target used at a firearms safety class has landed a Georgia police department in hot water.
Now, the mayor is calling for an investigation.
Villa Rica Mayor Gil McDougal on Wednesday, June 21, addressed backlash to photos showing residents using a Black man’s photo for target practice during a citizens’ handgun class, which was hosted by the city’s police department.
“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,” McDougal said.
“This incident does not reflect the values of this community.”
He ordered the images to be taken down — but not before residents took screenshots and voiced their outrage online.
One woman said the police department’s post made her feel “100% less safe.”
“I already fear for my Black husband, children, friends, and family on a daily basis,” she wrote in a Facebook post alongside photos from the firearms class. “But to see the ignorance on display from our local police department makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.”
Another resident commented: “If you cringe, even a little, at the thought of shooting at a target of a dog or a child and find absolutely nothing wrong with shooting at an image of a Black man, it’s an indication of how little respect and regard you have for our life.”
Emmanuel Mincey was so upset, he filed a complaint with the police department and said the photos “send the wrong message” to the city’s Black residents, WSB-TV reported.
“’Hey, guys. We shoot at you for target practice,’” he told the news station.
Police Chief Michael Mansour said pictures of white people were also used during the training, but “they ran out of those targets at the range,” according to WSB-TV.
“And they put these targets up,” Mansour said, referring to the targets featuring a Black man.
The Villa Rica Police Department has since apologized and said there was no ill intent behind the photos.
“The targets utilized in our recent firearms class depict realistic human images and were part of a package which included target images of people from various ethnic groups,” the department said in a statement.
“It was never our intention to be insensitive, inflammatory, or offensive to anyone.”
Villa Rica is about 30 miles west of downtown Atlanta.