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Officer jokes about shooting student during traffic stop

Posted at 12:31 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 12:31:50-04

RENO, NV (KOLO/CNN) - Authorities are investigating an incident where a university police officer makes a comment about shooting a person pulled over during a traffic stop.

There was laughter afterward, but the officer's superiors didn't find it amusing. 

It started as a routine traffic stop Sunday morning. University police officers stopped a car on suspicion of drunk driving. 

Sgt. Dan Johnston, whose body camera captured the interaction, claims the driver swerved in front of him.

Though the driver told the officer at the time that he didn't have anything to drink, the driver later admitted to having a couple of glasses of wine earlier in the night.  

The officers asked the driver and passengers to step out of the car.  

Open containers were allegedly found inside; however, the driver passed her field sobriety test.  

Johnston told fellow officer Adam Wilson he's letting them go with a warning, and then he said to one of the passengers in the car, "Holy -----! I'm glad you're not fighting. You're too big!" 

Wilson responded, "I was like, 'I'm just going to shoot him if this goes sideways. F--- that!'" 

Wilson, who has been with the police force for three years, has been placed on administrative leave. 

"My reaction, quite frankly, was one of anger," Director of Police Services Adam Garcia said.

The comments were made to a graduate student and former Wolf Pack football player, who was a passenger in the car. The student in question has retained an attorney.

Garcia said in his 15 years at the university, he has never seen a report like this.

"The interaction between a police officer and a member of our community is something I have not seen that I will not tolerate," he said. " It was repugnant in it's very nature. It does not speak to who we are as a department or as a university."

Garcia said the comments should never be made, but officers need to use extra caution with what they say given today's political climate and that this will be used as a lesson moving forward.

"Obviously we have a long way to go for these kinds of insensitive statements to be made to one of our students," he said. "We still need to, not only reach out to our community, but also within the department discuss and evaluate how we can best deliver the services we should be delivering without this kind of interaction."

Copyright 2017 KOLO via CNN. All rights reserved. Raycom News Network contributed to this report.