San Francisco Police Texting Scandal Could Compromise Thousands Of Cases

May 8, 2015
Originally published on May 8, 2015 9:38 pm
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Transcript

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Prosecutors in San Francisco are reviewing 3,000 criminal cases to determine whether they may have been compromised by police bias. The review comes after a group of officers were accused of sending racist and homophobic text messages while on duty. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: The inflammatory text messages were first revealed two months ago in federal court documents related to the case of a corrupt San Francisco police sergeant. A local probe soon implicated 13 other police officers who texted dozens of offensive remarks about lynching African-Americans and disparaging gays, among others. District Attorney George Gascon, a former San Francisco chief, says his team of prosecutors is trying to determine the scope of racial and other biases in the police department.

GEORGE GASCON: Usually, San Francisco leads national conversations on equality and fairness instead of racism, sexism and homophobia. However, as recent revelations have shown, we're not immune from this epidemic.

AMOS BROWN: Shame, shame, shame on San Francisco.

GONZALES: The head of the local NAACP, the Rev. Amos Brown, endorsed the DA's investigation.

BROWN: We cannot claim with integrity and honesty that we're a first-class, inclusive, loving city.

GONZALES: District Attorney Gascon also announced the appointment of three retired judges to review 3,000 cases involving arrests by the 14 officers. More than half of the cases were eventually prosecuted. The judges will look into other allegations of misconduct by law enforcement. San Francisco sheriff's deputies are accused of staging gladiator-style fights inside the county jail, and there are reports that hundreds of cases were mishandled by the SFPD laboratory. Richard Gonzales, NPR News, San Francisco. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.