In a rapidly unfolding scandal, San Francisco law enforcement officials are pledging to review the case work of four city police officers who are accused of sending a series of racist and homophobic text messages.
A published report says the San Francisco Police Department is also investigating at least 10 other officers in connection with the sharing of offensive text messages.
The existence of the texts was first reported late last week by NPR member station KQED.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, in a statement, “I am deeply disturbed by these text messages. There is no place for bigotry in San Francisco.”
The review could involve as many as 1,000 old prosecution cases going back over a 10-year period.
“These texts reveal racist attitudes, opinions, statements that were not born overnight,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
“Part of this review has to be to look into the background and character of all the officers involved in texting these racist messages,” he added.
The texts were revealed in federal court documents by prosecutors opposing a motion to allow former San Francisco police Sgt. Ian Furminger from remaining free on bail. Furminger is facing a 41-month sentence because he was convicted in December on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy. A federal judge refused to allow Furminger’s release on Monday.
The texts were written between 2011 and 2012 and reportedly shared among Furminger and four other officers. They are identified as Michael Robison, 46; Noel Schwab, 49; Rain Daugherty, 40; and Michael Celis, 47. All of the officers have at least 10 years of experience in the San Francisco Police Department.
The officers were transferred to desk duty last month after police officials became aware of the texts and launched their own investigation. Police Chief Greg Suhr says he will fire all four officers if the investigation shows that they wrote and shared the offensive texts.
In one text exchange, someone asks Furminger, “Do you celebrate quanza [sic] at your school?” Furminger replies: “Yeah we burn the cross on the field! Then we celebrate Whitemas.”
In a court filing, Furminger’s attorney, Mark Goldrosen, denied that his client is “a virulent racist and homophobe.” Goldrosen accused federal prosecutors of a rush to judgment, adding that Furminger’s “close friends include many persons of different races and different sexual orientation.”