African-American leaders in San Jose to discuss SJ officer reinstatement

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Black leaders in San Jose to discuss SJ officer reinstatement
Black leaders in San Jose will gather to discuss what to do next, after an officer dismissed for his threatening tweets was re-instated.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- African-American leaders in San Jose will gather Sunday night to discuss what to do next, after a police officer, dismissed for his threatening tweets, was re-instated. Officer Phil White is back on the job, but not on the street.

An arbitrator overturned his dismissal. First he was suspended, his twitter comments condemned for threatening to kill his critics, then he was fired. Now members of San Jose's African-American community are raising lack of transparency and mistrust issues over his reinstatement.

White returned to work quietly nine days ago doing administrative work. San Jose police didn't tell the public until late Wednesday - a fact that concerns Milan Balinton with the African-American Community Service Agency.

"I'm a little concerned about the transparency, but I'm also glad to know that they did take the necessary steps to review his reinstatement, but I just don't know what the parameters were," Balinton said.

WATCH VIDEO: San Jose officer let go after sending threatening tweets

It's unclear if or when the arbitrator's decision to reinstate Officer White will be released. However, we talked to his attorney, Michael Rains. Rains, along with two other sources, told ABC7 News that White's tweets, seen as inflammatory by many in the community, were taken out of context.

White had received threats after he made comments about property destruction and rioting during a Black Lives Matter protests. White was provoked by a threat of harm and a comment, "we know where you live."

WATCH VIDEO: Group calls for SJ cop to be fired for threatening tweets

Also considered was his unblemished record of 18 years and his exercise of free speech off-duty.

Legal analyst Steve Clark said, "You're never off-duty and what you say, particularly when it comes to these types of comments, really is something that should be kept private and it does have a very divisive effect on the community."

The city's independent police auditor says White will be under a magnifying glass.

"Every utterance, every citation he would write, every contact with a civilian, someone's always going to have to be thinking, 'What are these officers' motivations?" Is he going to follow the law?" Walter Katz, an Independent Police Auditor, said.