Hearings begin Friday in a Contra Costa County Superior Court over the Antioch PD’s racist text message scandal, but five officers will resist their subpoenas, claiming they are too injured to testify.
Things have gotten even more awkward this week in the ongoing Antioch Police Department racist text message scandal, as KGO reported earlier in the week that one officer sent a text referring to Black police chief Steven Ford as a gorilla. That’s in addition to an FBI investigation into the department for alleged bribery, fraud, and drug trafficking among officers, plus racist texts like “I’ll bury that n—-r in my fields” and a promise to “make these n—as eat s—.” There may be a Department of Justice probe into the Antioch PD, and state AG Rob Bonta is already conducting his own investigation.
There have not yet been many legal hearings on the scandal, though there is one scheduled Friday in Contra Costa County Superior Court, with 15 Antioch PD officers having been subpoenaed. But the Bay Area News Group reports that five officers will be resisting their subpoenas, with the department claiming the officers have “industrial injuries,” and have “not been medically cleared by (their) physician to attend court.”
The hearing is not directly about prosecuting officers for the racist texts and alleged crimes. Rather, it’s a hearing for four men accused of gang-related shootings, who are trying to get their changes dismissed, saying the racist texts and unethical officer behavior were violations of California’s Racial Justice Act. And the four mens’ attorneys are not at all pleased these five officers are able to duck out.
“It just highlights that these departments can’t police themselves, they can’t take the corrective measures that are needed to root out the racism,” one of those attorneys, Carmela Caramagno, told the News Group. “They’re structurally designed to protect themselves over the needs of the community.”
That publication has obtained the names of the five officers refusing to testify: Corporal Thomas Smith, Sergeant Joshua Evans, and officers Ryan McDonald, Andrea Rodriguez and Morteza Amiri.
Amiri’s situation is particularly unusual. He was partnered with a K9 dog named Purcy, who’s bitten 22 people over the course of his duty. Amiri seems pretty attached to the dog, keeping him personally while on paid leave over the scandal. Now Amiri claims his injury is from walking Purcy. The Antioch PD has reportedly since confiscated the dog.
One officer who is expected to testify Friday is Sergeant Rick Hoffman, who happens to be the city’s police union president. But another officer who is not expected to testify Friday is officer Johnathan Adams, whom they have not been able to locate to serve him his subpoena.
Image: @AntiochPolice via Twitter