ALAMEDA, Calif. — More than a dozen police officers are under investigation in a racist texting investigation that rocked the Northern California city of Antioch, an investigative report released Thursday shows.
A judge released the investigative report compiled by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office that included the partially redacted messages after a joint FBI and local investigation into the city’s police department.
The messages, which were sent in 2020 and 2021, detail officers allegedly using racial epithets and homophobic slurs, sharing racist images and casually discussing the use of «less-lethal» weapons on people, including the city’s mayor, who is black. .
Most of the approximately 114,000 residents of Antioch, about 45 miles northeast of San Francisco, are minorities.
The messages could have far-reaching implications for criminal cases linked to the officers. Authorities provided the messages last week to defense attorneys by four men accused of murder and other crimes after two of the accused were named in the messages.
The lawyer for one of the men said Thursday that the messages could undermine the credibility of officers in hundreds of convictions, if not more.
“There are people in jail right now on the word of these officers who have been involved in the use of this horribly offensive language,” said Evan Kuluk, Contra Costa County Deputy Public Defender. «That is an intolerable situation.»
In a message included in the investigative report and dated April 29, 2020, Officer Morteza Amiri told an officer from a nearby department that because his agency does not record video interviews, «Sometimes I just say that the People gave me a full confession when they didn’t.»
«It’s easier to archive,» Amiri said, according to the report.
Amiri did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
In another message, sent on April 24, 2020, Sgt. Josh Evans allegedly used a racial slur for a black person and said he would bury the person «in my fields,» according to the report.
In a message included in a separate supplemental report from the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, Officer Eric Rombough allegedly sent Evans a photo of one of the accused murder suspects in what appeared to be a bed. from hospital.
«Did you cover it in the neck? Lol,» Evans allegedly responded, according to the report, which was provided to NBC News by Mathew Martinez, an attorney for suspect Trent Allen.
Evans reportedly added that Allen’s injury sounded «like his fault.»
«So was the 6 muzzle blows and me trying to kick his head over the fence,» Rombough allegedly responded, according to the supplemental report.
Evans did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night. Rombough could not be reached for comment at an email account associated with him.
Other posts in the report appear to show Rombough using derogatory terms for black people and sharing racist images.
In a November 22, 2021 message, Rombough allegedly texted an officer: “I’m only pulling them over because they’re black,” adding a swear word.
In other messages, the president of the Antioch Police Association, Sgt. Rick Hoffman allegedly described a suspect with a homophobic slur and used a vulgar phrase to say what he did to the suspect.
Hoffman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night. The union also did not respond to a request for comment.
Other messages show the officers allegedly discussing the use of a less lethal weapon with the suspects and others, including Mayor Lamar Thorpe.
On June 8, 2020, Officer John Ramirez allegedly texted a group of 22 officers and said, «I’ll buy someone a rib dinner at House of prim rib for 40 which [expletive] during today’s protest.
«This is a reference to the potential use of a less-lethal 0.40mm launcher being used on current Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe,» wrote Senior Inspector Larry Wallace of the district attorney’s office, author of the report. of research that included the messages.
Ramirez did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
It is unclear if the officers named in the investigative report are on leave. The police department, the mayor and an attorney for the officers did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawyer, Michael Rains, told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday that people should avoid jumping to conclusions.
“It should be a thorough and fair investigation that everyone has faith and trust in if the officers committed misconduct,” he told the station. «I think you have a police chief in Antioch who will make that finding and take what kind of discipline is required by law, anywhere up to and including firing.»
An FBI spokesman declined to comment on their investigation.
«The culture of the department requires further exploration, including: how the heck all this alleged misconduct could go on for so long without anyone on our command staff noticing,» Thorpe said. «From lieutenant to chief.»
Ford started to respond before the city attorney interrupted him, saying he shouldn’t offer an opinion on a matter under review.