CoCo County public defender calls for all cases involving alleged racist cops be dismissed

FILE ART - Antioch police 

The Contra Costa County public defender is calling on District Attorney Diana Becton to dismiss all pending cases and to release all incarcerated individuals whose cases involve the Antioch Police Department officers caught up in the latest racist text messaging scandal.

"The public simply cannot have trust or confidence in any criminal prosecution involving APD," Ellen McDonnell, Contra Costa County public defender wrote to the District Attorney’s office. "No one should be charged with a crime based on the report of a police department so thoroughly riddled with corruption."

SEE ALSO: Contra Costa County DA releases report detailing racist, homophobic texts from Antioch police officers

McDonnell’s call comes after a joint investigative report conducted by the FBI and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office that found widespread racist, homophobic, sexist and derogatory text messages mostly sent by 14 Antioch Police officers. 

McDonnell’s letter also notes that over 45 APD officers were on the text chains with racist remarks that included sergeants, patrol officers, lieutenants and the president of the Antioch Police Officers Association. 

"At least sixteen of the forty-five officers are in leadership roles at APD as detectives, sergeants, and lieutenants showing they endorsed and shared in these views," McDonnell wrote in her letter. 

McDonnell is also requesting for the District Attorney to identify all officers, both active senders and passive recipients, involved in the text messages, as well as unredacted copies of the joint report. 

"The vile text messages were apparently discovered while investigating other acts of moral turpitude by members of APD and the Pittsburg Police Department," McDonnell wrote, adding that news reports have identified the acts being investigated as alleged drug use, misrepresented training, and trying to obtain fraudulent college degrees in order to receive pay increases. 

One Pittsburg police officer involved in a parallel investigation was charged with selling AR-15 style firearms. 


The joint report released yesterday also found widespread incidents of potential civil rights violations, abuse of authority, and perjury and concluded that these incidents "may have violated the Racial Justice Act."

Some of the most appalling text messages include multiple uses of the n-word, photos of gorillas in reference to Black people, admissions of racist beliefs and detailed incidents of potential police dishonesty and civil rights violations. 

One officer offered up a steak dinner as a reward for shooting Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe with a ".40mm less-lethal launcher," the report found.

"The extent of the hatred and lawlessness that has recently been revealed within APD is unfathomable," McDonnell wrote. "Continuing to prosecute the victims of APD’s targeted, violent, racist policing while simultaneously shielding the officers’ identities and the full extent of their misconduct and criminal activities is manifestly unjust."

KTVU has reached out to the D.A.'s office for comment on the public defender's call. We are awaiting a response. 

Freddy Brewster is a reporter for KTVU. 
Email Freddy at or call him at 513-379-7522
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