SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, December 21, Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that the six police officers who exchanged homophobic and racist text messages in 2012 will be allowed to keep their jobs without facing disciplinary action.
Goldsmith explained his reasoning and stated the San Francisco Police Department waited too long to address the misconduct allegations, and proclaimed that the ruling would be upheld due to the Peace Officer Bill of Rights.
According to prosecutors, the text messages were disclosed in 2014, initially involving eight officers. SFPD Police Chief Greg Suhr suspended the officers and proceeded to go through the motions to dismiss them from the line of duty. Two of the police officers have decided to retire since the texts surfaced. The remaining six officers remained on paid leave and awaited disciplinary action.
Following suspension, Officer Rain Daugherty filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco in May 2014. Daugherty argued that the officers should not be fired because the police department obtained texts in December 2012, but did not begin the disciplinary process until two years later.
The scandal unfolded in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district at the Henry Hotel. Residents reported to public defenders that officers had entered their space without permits or permission from residents; on occasion officers would even take valuables belonging to residents.
The accusations prompted SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi to begin an investigation by collecting video surveillance footage captured by the facility’s security cameras. The videos were used as evidence against the SFPD, and showed officers entering rooms without warrants or permission of the residents, and leaving with bags and other items that were not documented in evidence logs.
In the investigation of six officers, authorities obtained Sgt. Ian Furminger’s cellphone, which showed a series of racist and homophobic text messages using the phrase “white power” numerous times, and using slanderous statements targeting Mexicans, African-Americans, Filipinos, and gay people.