Melbourne officer resigns amid investigation into remarks made during arrest

Investigation results in continued findings

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, James Sparvero - Reporter, Thomas Metevia - Digital Content Producer

MELBOURNE, Fla. - A Melbourne police officer involved in the arrest of a DUI suspect who led police on a chase through two cities has resigned.

Justin Simmons, a four-year veteran of the department, is under investigation for possible racist comments made to the suspect during his arrest, according to a Melbourne Police Department spokesperson.

According to officials, the investigation ended in continued findings regarding professional misconduct and responsibilities.

"The Melbourne Police Department will not tolerate racially divisive comments, bias or insensitivity," Cheif David Gillespie said.

The investigation was opened after dashboard camera video captured the arrest of Vince White, 30, on Sunday.

"We are committed to working with our African American leaders to make positive change. We will continue to be transparent and work together to build an agency that all segments of our community are proud of," the Melbourne Police Department said in a news release.

Police said early Sunday morning, White started the dangerous chase by speeding away from officers onto Babcock Street near Florida Tech.

Police said White turned off his lights, drove the wrong way on Palm Bay Road and even collided with another driver.

The chase eventually ended at Palm Bay Road and U.S.1 after White's Jeep ran over stop sticks.

Police said White was impaired during the chase. Cocaine, marijuana and a half-empty bottle of vodka were found inside White's Jeep, police said.

News 6 spoke Wednesday with White's girlfriend, Jessica Jenkins, who denied White was drunk or high. Jenkins said White did not pull over for police because he was afraid.

Jenkins said she would be bothered if an officer used a racial slur during the arrest.

"Why can't we be equal? It shouldn't even matter what color you are, what color I am, because we still bleed the same," she said. "Come on, you have to do your job."

Gillespie was asked what would happen to the officer if it was determined he did use a racial slur.

"We are going to be accountable, and I will hold people accountable for what we say and what we do," he said.

White faced a judge Wednesday for the second time since he was brought to the Brevard County Jail.

He is currently behind bars with no bail.

News 6 obtained the raw video of the chase, which is below. The phrase in question is heard at the end of the dashboad camera video.

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