Richmond officer resigns over racist photo

November 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A police officer in the East Bay has resigned rather than endure an investigation over some controversial photos. The pictures were taken at a Halloween party, and show the officer making a white supremacist gesture.

The Halloween party photo shows 27-year-old Richmond Police Officer, Ben Murdoch, dressed up like a rock star. He appears to be raising a Nazi salute with a friend dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

"We take very seriously the way officers behave away from the job as well as on the job. What they do directly reflects back on the department, particularly when that reflects a significant lack of judgment," said Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus.

The rookie officer was placed on paid leave on Tuesday, but on Wednesday he resigned. His lawyer said he did not want to embarrass the department any further.

Matters of race are a sensitive issue at the Richmond Police Department. A group of black officers is suing the city claiming racism on the part of the Police Chief Chris Magnus who wasted no time accepting the resignation of Officer Murdoch on Wednesday.

"Yes, I feel we've been very proactive here," said Magnus.

Last month Police Commissioner Chris Tallerico dropped out of the Richmond City Council race after the Police Officers Association supported him with a flyer. It was widely seen as a racist stereotyping of Richmond's Latino residents.

"Specifically to the police department, I think moral is at the lowest point I've ever seen it. As far as things around town, I think the city has been fractionalized and it's not a good thing," said Tallerico.

The flyers were distributed without Tallerico's knowledge and he draws no similarities between his case and Murdoch's.

"Police officers standing around with people in a Klan outfit making Nazi solutes is just unacceptable behavior and I'm glad the officer resigned and saved the city the embarrassment of having to go through an investigation," said Tallerico.


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