San Francisco cops accused of exchanging racist text messages

BySergio Quintana KGO logo
Friday, April 1, 2016
SF cops accused of exchanging racist text messages
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The San Francisco Police Department has found itself in the midst of yet another racist texting controversy. This comes on the heels of last year's scandal.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Police Department is facing a widening scandal over racist and homophobic text messages.

Four additional officers are now involved and the whole mess could threaten all the cases those officers investigated.

RELATED: Judge rules 7 SFPD cops can't be punished for racist text messages

This latest text messaging scandal centers on Officer Jason Lai. Internal Affairs investigators found a series of texts he exchanged with at least three other officers while Lai was being investigated for sexual assault. He was charged last week with illegally using police computers to look up confidential DMV records.

"The language itself is very, very derogatory," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

"There were text messages of a reprehensible, racist, homophobic nature," said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi says his office will immediately begin reviewing all the cases connected to the implicated officers for bias.

"There are these festering views within the San Francisco Police Department, which unfortunately are now coming to light," Adachi said.

RELATED: Former SFPD officer sentenced for conspiracy, fraud

Gascon is especially concerned because this latest batch of derogatory conversations were happening while the first text messaging scandal was unfolding.

During the 2014 FBI investigation of Sgt. Ian Ferminger officers were discovered exchanging racist texts. He was convicted of corruption and fired.

But seven other officers were re-instated after a judge said the statute of limitations ran out on efforts to remove them from the force. Thirteen cases handled by those officers were dismissed.

"It continues to create this concern that we have that there are deeper problems that need to be addressed," Gascon said.

Chief Suhr says as soon as the texts involving Jason Lai were discovered, he suspended the four officers. One has now been fired and another retired.