Judge rules SFPD failed to act in time to discipline officers implicated in racist texting scandal

A San Francisco police officer who traded racist and homophobic text messages with a disgraced former sergeant will escape discipline because the department failed to take action within a year, a superior court judge ruled Monday.

Officer Rain Daugherty challenged the department's efforts to fire him in May, arguing that internal affairs investigators had possession of the text messages since 2012 and failed to act swiftly, only attempting to discipline the officers when the messages became public in federal court filings earlier this year.
The filings were made in March by prosecutors opposing Sgt. Ian Furminger's motion to be released on bail while appealing his conviction for stealing from suspects in 2009.
The messages were sent and received from Furminger's cellphone in 2011 and 2012 with four other officers, identified by their lawyers as Daugherty, Michael Robison, Michael Celis and Noel Schwab.
The filings did not reveal which officers sent which messages. They contained racial slurs, jokes about killing black people and references to "white power."
One of the officers, Robison, resigned shortly after the revelation. The investigation into the messages expanded to as many as 14 officers and police Chief Greg Suhr vowed to seek termination for seven of the officers involved.
But in court filings, Daugherty argued that the department had acknowledged it had all the text messages by December 2012, long before they were made public, and that the one-year statute of limitations for such investigations had expired.
"It's certainly unfortunate that the city sat on its hands during the investigation, but the judge recognized the statute of limitations was a bar on their going forward any further," Daugherty's attorney, Alison Berry Wilkinson, said on Monday.

The Police Department "utterly abdicated its responsibility to take prompt action," she said.
District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement that retaining the officers potentially puts thousands of criminal cases in jeopardy as the officers stayed in positions where they could interact with civilians even after the department had knowledge of their conduct.

"The fact that San Francisco is forced to retain police officers that demonstrated explicit racism will have ramifications for the reputation of the department, the fair administration of justice, and the trust of the community SFPD serves," Gascon said.

The officers were reassigned to positions without contact with the public in February, according to the department.

Police officials could not immediately be reached for comment.