A deputy U.S. Marshal is under investigation and on administrative leave while the agency investigates an incident in which he was recorded using a racial slur during an arrest.
The incident occurred during the arrest of Zaire Duffy, 25, a man wanted on felony warrants for an aggravated robbery out of Elyria.
Lorain Police officers and members of the Northeast Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force spotted Duffy outside McDonald’s at 6400 Middle Ridge Road around 2 p.m. on Friday.
According to Lorain Police, Duffy tried to flee and drove his vehicle toward an officer’s car, nearly striking it before heading out onto Middle Ridge Road.
Officers from several agencies started chasing after Duffy, who hit heavy traffic in Amherst. When officers from the Lorain Narcotics Bureau attempted to block his escape, he slammed his car into the undercover vehicle.
That move did enough damage to his vehicle that it became disabled after going only a mile further, and officers were able to arrest him.
During the arrest, his passenger began a Facebook Live broadcast.
The phone kept recording while Duffy’s unoccupied vehicle was searched. In the recording, a law enforcement officer is heard referring to Duffy as the n-word.
News 5 has confirmed that officer was a deputy U.S. Marshal.
A U.S. Marshals spokesman sent News 5 the following statement:
We are aware of the recorded incident and the inappropriate language used by a deputy U.S. Marshal during the arrest of Zaire Duffy last Friday. The deputy marshal has been placed on administrative leave, and district management has referred the matter to USMS internal affairs for investigation. We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, which does not represent our agency’s core values of justice, integrity and service. We are disgusted by the use of such repugnant language, because we strive to treat everyone professionally, regardless of alleged crimes. The agency takes seriously any allegation of misconduct by its personnel. As a matter of policy, USMS does not reveal the identity of employees in reference to specific personnel matters.
Lorain Police sent the following statement to News 5:
I do want to commend the officers who took part in this pursuit on their restraint. On several occasions they were put in potentially fatal circumstances by Duffy, yet they showed amazing restraint in the force that they used in return.
This arrest was an excellent piece of police work, which will unfortunately be marred by an insensitive, offensive remark made by an officer when he thought he was by himself.
Jean Wrice has been the Lorain NAACP President for the last 24 years. She said she believes the marshal should be removed from his position.
“Whatever this young man did, I’m not speaking on that, I’m speaking about this man that has this kind of position,” Wrice said. “It makes me really, really concerned. If he’s done it one time, he’s done it before.”
Duffy has an extensive criminal history. Lorain Police are asking the grand jury that he also be charged with multiple counts, including felonious assault on several police officers, for his actions during the pursuit.
Police recovered approximately 20 grams of heroin inside Duffy's vehicle. According to a report, they also discovered 18 grams of crack cocaine and nearly $5,000 from his passenger, who told detectives that Duffy gave her the drugs and money to hide.