15 Police Officers Placed on Administrative Leave with Pay
(CA) – Fifteen officers, with the Torrance Police Department, have been placed on administrative leave with pay after offensive text messages were discovered. The discovery of the text messages was made by investigative reporters with the Los Angeles Times . The cases which are affected by the police officers who are currently under investigation, go back as much as a decade.
Attorney General Vows No Special Treatment for Police Officers
Attorney General Rob Bonta campaigned, and was elected, on his promise that police officers would not be given special treatment. He made it clear that he was willing to prosecute officers who violated the law and he has followed through with that promise. Bonta received the support of constituents who were tired of the police misconduct and police violence. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is conducting an investigation into the cases affected by the racist police officers. A.G. Bonta has asked the state’s Department of Justice to conduct an investigation also. Either or both investigations can turn into a criminal investigation.
Racist, Homophobic, and Anti-Semitic Text Messages
According to the Los Angeles Times,
The officers’ comments spared no color or creed: They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying during an investigation into a police shooting, according to district attorney’s office records reviewed by The Times.
In addition to the above, there were also jokes about lynching and “a photo of Black men being lynched with the caption ‘hanging with the homies.'”
This is very concerning. If the Los Angeles Times was able to find this information so easily, why was nothing done before this? It doesn’t seem likely that these were private text messages. Private text messages would be extremely hard, if not impossible, for a media organization to get unless a member of the group supplied them. It seems more likely that the text messages were sent on department supplied cell phones. That would make them subject to open records requests.
Claims of Excessive Force being Re-Examined
The LA Times reports that its investigation of use-of-force records and other court filings also revealed the same Torrance police officers who allegedly sent racist text messages were involved in at least seven use-of-force incidents since 2013. It reported that documents show three of those incidents resulted in the deaths of Black and Latino men, sparking outcry and numerous community calls to reexamine those cases.
You have text messages that talk about lying during an investigation into a police shooting. And you have individuals involved in this group who have killed Black and Latino men. It’s kind of hard to see how this would NOT turn into a criminal investigation.
90 Cases Dismissed So Far, Expect Civil Lawsuits
The investigation continues into the cases that may have been affected by these police officers. To date, 40 felony cases and 50 misdemeanor cases have been dismissed. The investigators have prioritized the cases where the individuals are currently in jail. But they will be looking at all of the over 1,800 cases they feel could have been affected.
The lives negatively impacted by these officers is the main concern, but there is more fall-out from these officers’ actions. The racist officers have tarnished the reputation of the Torrance Police Department. They have caused hundreds of thousands of investigative and judicial hours to be wasted. They have wasted the time of jurors. And they also will probably cost the city a heck of a lot of money once the civil lawsuits start getting filed.
There needs to be accountability. There needs to be a price paid. And the investigations into the seven use of force incidents need to be re-examined. Especially the three shootings which resulted in death.