4 San Jose police officers licensed for racist Facebook posts

Four San Jose police officers were placed on administrative leave amid an investigation by a private Facebook group where racist and intolerant comments were shared between current and retired police officers.

A spokeswoman for the San Jose Police Department confirmed Saturday that the agency was conducting an administrative investigation into the comments and that the department was seeking help from the FBI.

While I have no control over what former employees post online, I can express my outrage after hearing about these comments online. Any current employee involved in intolerant online activities will be promptly investigated and will be held accountable to the fullest extent possible, “said San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia in a statement.” We have no place for this. “

Private Facebook group 10-7ODSJ caught public attention this week in an article published on Medium. The author, an anonymous person identified as the partner of someone who works for a Bay Area police department, wrote that some current and retired San José police officers were posting racist and intolerant comments to the secret group.

The article said a current San Jose police officer wrote, “Black lives don’t really matter,” in a public comment on Facebook. In the private group, the same officer joined an argument about a Muslim woman who sued the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department for forcing her to remove her scarf in police custody.

“Hell, he would have had it in his face,” the officer said in his comment, according to the Medium article.

Another person raised the idea of ​​wearing headscarves as ropes, according to the Medium article.

San Jose Dist. Atty Jeff Rosen said in a statement that his office’s Convictions Integrity Unit would conduct a “comprehensive review” of all cases in which current and retired officers had a role.

“What I just read made me sick and sick for our entire community. No one who expresses this kind of nasty and racist comment should wear a badge, “Rosen said in the statement. “Anyone who writes this type of garbage has no role in our criminal justice system.”

Paul Kelley, president of the San José Police Officers Association, the union that represents base officers, told San Jose Mercury News that the union would not provide legal or financial support if any officers were accused of misconduct in connection to the Facebook page. He told the newspaper that there was “zero space in our department or our profession for racists, fans, or those who empower them.”

The online group’s discovery coincided with the writing of racial justice activist and police critic Shaun King about a different private Facebook group where he said that former members of the local police appeared to be discussing a plot to kill him.

King, 40, included screenshots and snippets of conversations, also on Medium, a tactic he took because he said he didn’t know where to report the incident and because he said he had little faith in law enforcement.

Three of those named in King’s article were former Long Beach police officers. On Friday night, one of those former officers accidentally fired a pistol at a service station on Bellflower Boulevard, according to a Long Beach police statement. The former officer was taken to the hospital after being shot “in the lower limb” and the police reserved the gun for evidence and was conducting a further investigation into the incident.

Authorities said the “accidental discharge” of the gun was not believed to be related to the alleged threats against King.

Eddie Garcia, the head of the San Jose police department, said he had previously disciplined and fired employees for “offline service activity that goes against our standards of conduct.”

In 2015, San Jose officials fired a police officer complaining about Black Lives Matter and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, in social media posts.

Phil White’s tweets included: “Threatening me or my family and I will use my right and the duty of God given and the law to kill you. #CopsLivesMatter “White also wrote,” By the way, if someone feels like they can’t breathe or their lives are important, I’ll be out of the theater tonight, off duty, with my gun. “

The “can’t breathe” in White’s tweet referred to the last words of Eric Garner, a black man, after he was knocked to the ground by a New York police officer in 2014. After Garner’s death, the protesters chanted, “I can’t breathe.”

An independent arbitrator reinstated White in 2016, and was assigned to administrative duties and to help introduce the department’s body-worn cameras. At the time, then-acting Police Chief Eddie Garcia said his agency and the city disagreed with the referee’s decision, but would comply with White’s reinstatement to the department.

Times staff writer Andrew Campa contributed to this report.

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