PITTSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- Pittsburg police are investigating a racially charged incident, where a man used racial slurs and called police on a Black woman with her young daughter at a dog park, while another man coughed in the woman's face.
The incident began Friday around 6 p.m. when Nicole Terrell and her 6-year-old daughter went to Highlands Ranch Park to play with Bella, a 6-month-old emotional support pet.
When another dog, belonging to another African American family attacked Bella, the incident seemed to quickly resolve itself.
"They apologized and they said they were leaving and 'I'm so sorry,'" says Nicole.
But before they were able to leave, the situation took a turn for the worst.
"Out of nowhere a man just started saying vulgar racist slurs toward the African American family which prompted me to start recording," Nicole said.
She then became a victim as well, claiming this man unleashed a tirade of slurs, including the N-word and a phrase we won't repeat. She says the man began acting aggressively toward the other family, and out of fear, one member poured water on the man to get him to stop.
She says the man then claimed to be a "federal agent" and called 9-1-1. That's when a second man jumped in and coughed in Nicole's face.
Feeling unheard by Pittsburg police, who she says acted without empathy and referred to her as a suspect, Nicole reached out to city council and got the ear of the vice mayor who denounced the incident.
"To deliberately cough at someone I don't get that... but what I would like to say is that please... in Pittsburg please remember we are all here, we are community and this is not what we want to represent us. This is not who we are this is not what we want to represent us, and we need to look and be more kind," Craft said in a phone interview.
Pittsburg police say they're taking the case "very seriously" and their investigation will eventually be passed on to the district attorney. An independent review is also being done on the officer who responded to the scene.
ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim spoke with the man who made the 9-1-1 call late Thursday afternoon. He did not want to be identified for safety concerns but said he was simply reacting to protect Nicole's dog and felt threatened by the black families.
"Do you regret what you said?" asked Lim. Yeah I regret it the moment it came out of my mouth.... I apologize for my behavior you know? I'm normally a pretty well-consoled guy, I don't think I've ever said anything like that in my life."
As Nicole and her daughter continue to heal, she has this message to all people of color.
"Make sure you don't back down and you fight. I had to fight. In this situation I felt very weak. However, in the situation we need to realize that it'll make you 10 times stronger and I'm growing from this. This is just the beginning."
Because the criminal investigation is ongoing, police were not able to release information on the two men seen in the video.