An emergency dispatcher who made disparaging remarks about Oprah Winfrey during the Maya Angelou 911 call has been suspended, ET has learned.
EMS Director Dan Ozimek gave a statement to ET, saying, "These comments are unacceptable and we have opened an internal investigation to look into the circumstances surrounding this event."
John Ruckh was heard on the 911 tape saying that Oprah, a friend of Angelou's had "fallen out of grace" after a controversial interview in which Oprah expressed her thoughts about race in America.
"Unfortunately, I work in a high-profile job and everything's recorded," Ruckh told the Winston-Salem Journal. "This is in no way a racial slur, slander, associated conversation ... I really hate that this happened at the time that it did, because this is taking away from Maya Angelou's passing."
Dr. Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Wednesday at age 86.
She was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis and in the 1960s served as the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She also worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. Among her achievements, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 and the Lincoln Medal in 2008.
After Angelou's passing, Oprah gave this statement to ET: "I've been blessed to have Maya Angelou as my mentor, mother/sister, and friend since my twenties. She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give,' is one of my best lessons from her. But what stands out to me most about Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it's how she lived her life. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds."
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