Over a dozen police officers in Antioch, a Northern California city, are under federal investigation after a slew of alleged racist text messages were uncovered.
According to NBC News, messages from 2020 and 2021 show the officers allegedly employing racial stereotypes and slurs, sharing racist images, casually discussing using "less lethal" weapons on the city's Black mayor, and referring to Black people as "monkeys" and "gorillas."
The Northern California city of Antioch is made up of roughly 114,000 residents, the majority of which are minorities.
In an April 2020 text, Police Sgt. Josh Evans allegedly told Officer Morteza Amiri, "I'll bury that n***** in my fields," per the Daily Mail. He followed up in a second text: "And yes....it was a hard R on purpose."
According to FBI documents, Officer Eric Rombough referred to Black people as animals in several text messages.
Rombough allegedly sent texts saying: "So we are harassing the gorillas," 'We just ran down a monkey at Sycamore," and "Bottom line it doesn't matter some gorilla killed another gorilla."
The messages show Rombough allegedly admitted to stopping Black people because of their race.
"I'm only stopping them cuz they black. F*** them. Kill each other," one message reads.
Evan Kuluk, the deputy public defender for Contra Costa County, said the officers' alleged remarks could undermine their credibility in hundreds of convictions.
"Right now there are people sitting in jail based on the word of these officers who've been involved in using this horribly offensive language," Kuluk said. "That is an intolerable situation."
However, Michael Rains, an attorney for the officers, told NBC Bay Area that people should wait for the investigation to play out.
“It should be a thorough, fair investigation that everybody has faith and trust in if the officers committed misconduct," Rains said. "I think you got a police chief in Antioch that is going to make that finding and is going to take what type of discipline the law calls for, anywhere up to and including terminations.”
Mayor Lamar Thorpe condemned the texts, saying the city's police department "has long been a huge legal and financial liability, which is on full display today."
"The culture of the department requires further exploration, including how the hell did all this alleged misconduct could go on for so long without anyone at our command staff noticing," Thorpe said in a statement. "From lieutenant on up to the chief."