S.F. Police Chief Greg Suhr (photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, San Francisco Chronicle)
Seven San Francisco police officers are facing termination for recently revealed racist and homophobic texts they sent in 2011 and 2012. An eighth has already resigned.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said last week that he had suspended a captain, a sergeant and six other officers and recommended the Police Commission fire them. He also cited six others for slightly less egregious behavior.
The text messages came to light last month when federal prosecutors filed a motion to keep former S.F. police Sergeant Ian Furminger in custody after his conviction in a department scandal that is still unfolding. He and another officer were convicted of taking money from the homes of drug dealers during arrests. Six officers were indicted in February 2014 for similar activities.
The motion documented Furminger’s “virulent” racism in messages to other officers. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the officer messaged about concern that the black husband of his ex-wife’s friend would come to his house. The officer messaged back, “Get ur pocket gun. Keep it available in case the monkey returns to his roots. Its (sic) not against the law to put an animal down.”
“Well said!” Furminger reportedly replied. “You may have to kill the half-breeds too,’’ the unnamed officer replied. The messages slurred gays, African-Americans, Filipinos and Mexicans with equal zeal.
The district attorney’s office is reviewing files involving the officers accused of racial bias going back 10 years. Public defender Jeff Adachi told the New York Times that could involve more than 1,000 cases.
Defenders of the officers said the messages were not indicative of how they truly felt, but were instead idle chit-chat and a way of blowing off steam. Adachi disagreed. “The characterization of these hateful statements as innocent banter is dead wrong,” he said. “This casual dehumanization leads to real-life suffering and injustice. It foments a toxic environment in which citizens fear and distrust the police, brutality reigns, and good officers are less effective.”