As you surely remember, the 17 SFPD officers investigated for sending scores of racist and homophobic text messages amongst themselves were allowed to remain on the force after a judge ruled the statute of limitations on the offenses had passed. The ruling was made especially upsetting in light of the fact that SFPD higher-ups may have known about the disturbing conduct since 2012 and yet delayed investigating. Well, in a further upsetting development, it turns out that San Francisco taxpayers may now be forced to foot the bill for the legal defense of ten of those officers.
The Examiner reports that Alison Berry Wilkinson, the lawyer representing ten of the officers involved in the scandal, intends to file a motion demanding San Francisco pay for her legal fees as the judge ruled in her clients' favor. The paper notes that while a price tag has yet to be put on her work, it could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
At least one elected official, Supervisor David Campos, is upset about the news.
I so hope this is not true: SF may have to pay legal fees of cops who sent racist text messages - The San Francisco https://t.co/DeUv9KMjjv— David Campos (@DavidCamposSF) February 10, 2016
City officials, for their part, have appealed the judge's ruling, and if successful in their appeal the entire issue may be moot. However, until that time, there is a real possibility that the citizens of San Francisco may be stuck forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars in defense of SFPD officers who compared minorities to animals along with other racist comments.
City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey told the Examiner that he can't comment on Wilkinson's motion to have her legal fees covered by SF until she files it. However, it would not be a surprise to hear something from his office as soon as the motion is filed — if it ever is.
The text messages in question were uncovered in 2012 as part of a corruption investigation into several SFPD officers. In December of 2014 Sergeant Ian Furminger and Officer Edmond Robles were both convicted on corruption charges, and one other officer, Arshad Razzak, was found guilty in a separate trial of illegally searching the rooms of drug suspects and falsifying a police report.