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Police department in Georgia apologizes over image of Black man used for target practice

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(VILLA RICA, Ga.) — A police department in Georgia is apologizing after posting now-deleted footage showed several white participants in a handgun training course shooting a photo of a Black man for target practice. The footage has sparked outrage among some in the community.

A representative from the police department told ABC News that the human images will no longer be used for civilian target practice following the outrage but the images will continue to be used for law enforcement training per law enforcement training standards.

Footage posted online by the Villa Rica Police Department, captured by ABC affiliate WSB-TV before their deletion, show only images of a Black man being used by civilian class participants, though the department said that the images are one of “various ethnic groups” included in the target practice photos.

Online commenters critiqued the apparent sole use of images with a Black male.

“Hating and being afraid of [Black] people is taught at home, at police training and apparently random handgun classes,” read one comment on the police department’s Facebook post.

Members of the Carroll County branch of the NAACP criticized the department’s use of photos as targets.

“These types of targets have been used by other police departments within the U.S. and have been deemed racially inappropriate and unacceptable,” NAACP Carroll County President Dominique Conteh said in an online statement.

NAACP Carroll County did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

“I don’t think you should have any human being as a target whether they are Black, white, Asian,” Conteh said in a comment to a local Fox affiliate.

Villa Rica Mayor Gil McDougal ordered the images to be removed from social media and for an independent firm to investigate the incident, according to WSB-TV.

Conteh said in the statement she has requested a meeting with the department and leadership to discuss the incident.

Diversity training would give more insight “as to the reasoning as to why those targets are ‘unacceptable and deemed racist,"” Conteh said in the statement.

“It was never our intention to be insensitive, inflammatory, or offensive to anyone,” the police department said in an online statement.

The department said it “strives to be conscious of how our relationship with our community members has a direct impact on our effectiveness within the community we serve.”

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