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Monday, December 21, 2015

No Discipline For Cops Who Sent Racist Text Messages

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 3:37 PM

click to enlarge news7-texts-e1450581820767.jpg
The San Francisco police officers who exchanged racist and homophobic text messages will avoid all punishment and will return to their jobs because the police department waited too long to take action, a judge ruled Monday.

Up to 14 officers traded KKK-worthy text messages with disgraced former Sgt. Ian Furminger, who was convicted last year on federal corruption charges.

The texts, all sent before 2012, contained such choice language as "all niggers must fucking hang," "white power," and other racist and homophobic epithets that raised serious questions about bias in the SFPD.

Those doubts, and the officers, will remain. Because of the ongoing federal investigation into Furminger, the police department did not take action just long enough — for over a year — for the statute of limitations under the California Peace Officer Bill of Rights to expire, Judge Ernest Goldsmith said in a tentative ruling made public on Friday.

The text messages surfaced in a court filing made in February 2014. They became public in 2015, when police Chief Greg Suhr declared he would move swiftly to discipline the officers involved. Three of the cops resigned — but one since moved to have his resignation rescinded, after it became clear to the officers and their attorneys that the SFPD waited too long to take action.

Prior to that, however, the text messages were provided to the SFPD's Internal Affairs unit in late 2012. However, Internal Affairs investigators received the messages on the condition that they not be shared with anyone — not Suhr and not higher ups at the department — until the end of Furminger's trial.

The state Peace Officer Bill of Rights sets a clear one-year timeline for disciplinary action to be taken. Attorneys for the officers claimed that the department knew about the text messages for at least two years before Suhr went public.

According to the Chronicle, the officers involved include Capt. Jason Fox, Sgt. Michael Wibunsin, Officer Sean Doherty, Officer Richard Ruiz and Officer Angel Lozano. Another officer, Michael Celis, had originally tendered his resignation but asked to be reinstated once he learned of the snafu.

Suhr told KQED that the department plans to appeal this ruling.

“These officers should not be police officers,” Suhr told the news station. “They clearly fall below the minimum standard required, and we will appeal. … It’s a process, but I don’t want them in this Police Department and neither do the police officers in the Police Department.”

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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