Dinwiddie sheriff sets the record straight on use of racial slur

Published: Oct. 8, 2015 at 3:49 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2015 at 3:49 AM EDT
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DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - Dinwiddie's sheriff turned to NBC12 to defend himself after a controversial video surfaced that is making national headlines.

The video shows Sheriff D.T. Adams interrogating a man who would later be convicted of murder. The sheriff is heard repeating a racial slur.

"It hurts. It hurts because people are taking it out of context," Sheriff D.T. "Duck" Adams says. "I wanted to set the record straight. I appreciate you and Channel 12 for giving me the opportunity to do this."

The sheriff was interrogating Michael Elmore, who is now serving a life sentence for murdering 70-year-old Carter Northington, a.k.a. the "can man."

"I went in there and made an attempt to get on his level," Sheriff Adams says.

Elmore claims he was fearful of speaking out.

"It's going to get me in more s--- with n-----s," Elmore says during the interrogation. "No, it's not. We're going to protect you. These n-----s are not going to get you. You're not going to be in no hot water with no n-----s. Tell me what happened."

Sheriff Adams says it was textbook investigative work.

"It's right there in that book," Sheriff Adams says, referencing a manual on his desk. "It's called reflective questioning. I want the citizens and the people all over Virginia to know that I was doing my job. I was doing what I was trained to do, and I helped get a murderer off the street. I'm not going to apologize for that."

Former Dinwiddie Sheriff Samuel Shands is standing by Sheriff Adams.

"It's politics. That's what it is. I went through it three times," Shands says. "All I know is good. He's a good man."

Sheriff Adams stops just short of calling the release of the video dirty politics.

"I have a good reputation in Dinwiddie County," Sheriff Adams says. "I believe some people are running scared."

Dinwiddie Commonwealth's Attorney, Ann Cabell Baskervill, released the following statement:

"The sheriff and I want the same things: a safe, healthy county with justice for all. Let there be no doubt about that. But look, we can do better. We must do better. The n-word is repugnant, indefensible, and incompatible with equal justice under the law. To hear it used in court, even when replaying an interview tape, is painful and highly offensive, to me, to our shared values, and to a lot of other community members who maybe don't have the forum for speaking on it, as I do."

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