Antioch police officer reinstated after investigation clears him from racist texting scandal

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Friday, April 19, 2024
Antioch police officer reinstated after cleared in text investigation
Antioch Police Officer Rick Hoffman was reinstated after an investigation cleared him from the department's racist texting scandal.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Antioch resident Frank Sterling, Jr.'s 2009 encounter with then-Antioch Police Officer Rick Hoffman left him hospitalized. He was awarded compensation as part of a settlement alleging excessive use of force.

Last year, Hoffman, who rose to the rank of sergeant, was put on paid leave after being linked to the police texting scandal. Now, Hoffman is coming back.

"Definitely, we are all very upset that Rick Hoffman has come back. He is known for committing violence in the community. He is mentioned in the text message scandal, laughing at violence," Sterling said.

Last year, an FBI investigation uncovered a racist texting scandal at the Antioch Police Department. Since then, more than 40% of the force is out on paid leave.

MORE: Senior-level APD officers signed off on now deemed 'excessive' use of force, report says

Documents from the FBI and the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office show Rick Hoffman on a series of text chains that used racist, misogynistic and homophobic language and memes.

"If you sent a message, received a message, laughed at a message, if you didn't report these messages, we don't need you in Antioch," Sterling said.

ABC7 News has learned that an investigation was conducted, which cleared Hoffman to return. That could include a demotion in rank. But details of the investigation haven't been made public.

"They are back on the force, so were there no findings in this investigation? Why hasn't there been any disclosure on that. Why hasn't the public been made aware? It felt like a secret," said Antioch Police Commissioner Devin Williams.

MORE: Judge says Antioch police officers don't have to testify in Racial Justice Act hearing

Williams says he is troubled by the lack of transparency.

Despite being on leave, Hoffman is still listed as president of the Antioch Police Officers Association.

Documents from the Contra Costa D.A.'s Office show Hoffman as the ranking officer who cleared others for use of force. The FBI later indicted officers in those same cases.

Williams is concerned how this will influence new police recruits.

MORE: Antioch police chief announces retirement ahead of subpoena to testify in texting scandal case

"The culture, right, of the department. The new police chief Addington is saying he wants to have a culture of accountability. But that hasn't been shown in the past, so can you ensure this will be the new way going forward," Williams said.

In an email to ABC7 News, Interim Police Chief Brian Addington writes, "I can confirm that Officer Rick Hoffman is employed as an Antioch Police Officer." Addington did not elaborate if Hoffman was demoted from sergeant.

A source tells ABC7 News it was Addington who made the decision to bring Hoffman back.

Williams wants to call Officer Hoffman to come before the police commission.

"We are not here to have a hearing, but you know, we want to have some answers. We want to see if his character has changed. For the benefit of us all," Williams said.

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