The Winston-Salem Journal reports the dispatcher, John Ruckh, didn’t take the 911 call last week. However, he is heard in the background talking about a controversial interview the BBC had Winfrey in November. The newspaper goes on to note that Ruckh could be heard saying in the barely audible background that “Oprah has fallen out of grace,” while asking other dispatchers their thoughts on the interview.
“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die,” Winfrey said in the interview before criticizing the people who disrespect the nation’s first African-American president because of his skin color.
Summarizing the media mogul’s comments, Ruckh appeared to call the interview a “rant,” according to the Journal.
Forsyth County EMS Director Dan Ozimek labeled Ruckh’s comments “unacceptable” in a statement to the publication, adding, “…we have opened an internal investigation to look into the circumstances surrounding this event.”
As for Ruckh, the 24-year-old EMS dispatcher appeared to be apologetic about the incident, despite insisting that “this is in no way a racial slur, slander, associated conversation.”
“Unfortunately, I work in a high-profile job and everything’s recorded,” Ruckh told the Journal, adding that he regrets the timing of the conversation in light of the passing of the legendary poet and activist.
“In Emergency Services, we deal with a lot of pain and suffering, and we make decisions in split seconds to know how to do, what to do and who to send,” he said. “… However, sometimes we become calloused and insensitive. I really hate that this happened at the time that it did, because this is taking away from Maya Angelou’s passing.”
For more about John Ruckh’s suspension, click here.