San Francisco officers involved in text scandal may be immune to being fired

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco police officers accused of sending racist texts may be immune to being fired.

It turns out a federal judge's order did not prevent the San Francisco Police Department from investigating racist texts two years ago, which may jeopardize disciplinary actions.

The lawyers for the cops who face discipline will use the officers Bill of Rights statute of limitations as their defense.

And while all this legal fighting has been going on, ABC7 News has learned that the police department will begin giving cases in which these officers were involved to the district attorney for review.

"It raises questions of whether or not these officers have credibility when they say this person did this or that," San Francisco Public Defense Chief Attorney Matt Gonzales said.

That could be hundreds if not thousands of cases which San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon's office will have to review.

There are 14 officers who are facing disciplinary action from the text messaging scandal.

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr wants the police commission to fire eight of them, including a captain.

Six officers whose texts were not as offensive, face other disciplinary actions.

"It's transparent for both the DA's office as well as the public defenders office, as well as the police department working together to see if those cases have any bias policing," San Francisco spokesperson Ofc. Albie Esparza said.

Meantime, the legal wrangling between police brass and lawyers for the officers is starting to reach a head.

San Francisco's Internal Affairs unit reportedly received the offensive texts from the US attorney in 2012.

Defense attorney Michael Rains says the statute of limitations for police investigations is only one year. And that the police commission therefore cannot discipline the officers.

A federal judge did sign a protective order preventing disclosure of certain information in the case, but he did not mention text messages.

Suhr maintains that the federal public corruption probe of former Ofc. Ian Furminger and two other cops shielded his department from investigating officers who were texting.

"When there's a federal case we want to make sure that we don't hinder the investigation in anyway or there's any kind of cross contamination if you will, so we want to make sure that they complete their investigation," Esparza said.

ABC7 News has learned that the attorneys for the officers will file their motions in this case by end of this month.

Again, they're saying the officers should get off on this legal technicality called statute of limitations.
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