Felony cases linked to officers in Antioch police racist texting scandal being dismissed

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Friday, June 9, 2023
Felony cases linked to Antioch police texting scandal being dropped
Serious felony charges are being dismissed in Antioch because the DA's office says the investigating officers are linked to the texting scandal.

ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- The fallout from the racist texting scandal at the Antioch Police Department continues. Now for the first time, serious felony charges are being dismissed because the District Attorney's office says the investigating officers are linked to the texting scandal.

Last October, Antioch police found Mykaella Sharlman's body burned and mutilated along a trail in Antioch. Two men, Ashton Montalvo and Deangelo Boone, were arrested in connection to the case.

But the two felony charges they faced, for mutilation of a human body and arson, are being dropped because some of the officers who investigated the case are linked to the Antioch Police Department's racist texting scandal.

"What justice looks like to me, is a fair trial," Nicole Eason, Mykaella's older sister. "Now the case is dismissed and they walk free. With no rehabilitation. With no punishment."

RELATED: All cases linked to Antioch officers in texting scandal to be reviewed: 'Absolutely unprecedented'

Eason says her family wants the officers to be held accountable in the texting scandal. But says they are frustrated that evidence alone wasn't enough to move the case forward.

"There was some concrete evidence that should have landed a conviction," says Eason. "So we are very heartbroken at the judicial system."

These are the first serious felony charges being dismissed because of its connection to officers linked to the Antioch PD texting scandal.

"It was a very difficult decision to make, but it was something that as the final reviewer of these cases, I made that recommendation," says Annie Esposito, the Assistant District Attorney for Contra Costa County. "Depending on how the officers are involved, is it incidental? Or are they actual material witnesses? If they are material witnesses, and they are not available, how are we supposed to proceed to prove the case?"

EXCLUSIVE: Antioch police chief calls texting scandal 'hate speech;' open to federal oversight

Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford responds to texting scandal, saying "without question this is hate speech."

That suggests it's not necessarily that the officers are no longer credible, but that they may not want to testify since they are under investigation.

"They are not available right now. They are on paid leave. But (as for) their availability? I'm not sure. It could be compromised (for) other reasons," says Esposito.

Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford says there will likely be more felony dismissals with potentially thousands of cases under review.

"I think certainly in some people's eyes, this is probably disappointing, you know, to see this. But I think in light of all that's happened, I think right now, the question about this organization is, are we credible? Do we have any legitimacy as an organization?" says Chief Ford.

RELATED: 40% of Antioch police force likely involved in alleged racist texting scandal, public defender says

But he insists that his department can still do its job.

"What's happening now is not abnormal. It's truthfully not earth-shaking to me. We still have officers coming to this organization every single day, doing the right thing. I want to emphasize that," says Ford.

Meanwhile, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe says this is more reason that the officers involved in the texting scandal, who are still on paid leave, need to be fired.

"Here are actual consequences as a result of these racists text messages. Where now victims and their families will no longer have, or potentially will no longer have justice as a result of all of this. And so, these officers need to be fired immediately," says Mayor Thorpe.

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