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Police officers accused of swapping homophobic and racist texts

Joe Williams April 1, 2016
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A group of police officers have been accused of exchanging offensive text messages.

The racist and homophobic comments come as the San Francisco Police Department continues to battle allegations of systemic racism and homophobia within its ranks.

The new accusations are related to the criminal investigation of alleged sexual assault by Officer Jason Lai while he was off-duty in August 2015, police said.

District Attorney George Gascon said investigators were sifting through evidence sent by the Police Department late last year related to Lai’s case, including 25,000 pages of text messages, and discovered the messages sent by at least four officers.

The district attorney said the messages included speculation about the sexuality of female officers and racist comments.

Gascon called the messages “very problematic” and said they included texts from the time when the previous text message scandal was revealed in March 2015.

He said the text messages uncovered recently “clearly acknowledged” earlier scandals and the officers were “almost mocking what was going on.”

Gascon said once he learned of the new messages, he immediately sent a letter to police Chief Greg Suhr to make sure the officers weren’t on active duty with the public.

The department acted immediately to suspend the officers and referred the matter to the city’s Police Commission for review, police said.

Since then, two of the officers have separated from the department. A third officer has an open case pending with the Police Commission and could face discipline or termination, police said.

City Public Defender Jeff Adachi said his office would “begin a full review of past cases that may have been tainted by these officers.”

“I am also calling for an independent investigation into when the police chief and district attorney learned of the text messages.

“Every person in San Francisco deserves equal justice,” Adachi added.

“It does them a grave disservice to dismiss every hateful act as an isolated incident.

“The Police Department must address the culture that lets racism fester in its ranks.”

Related topics: Homophobia, LGBT, police, racism, San Francisco, US

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