Local NAACP leaders comment on SFPD officers text message scandal

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Members of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP spoke outside San Francisco Police Headquarters Monday afternoon about a series of racist and homophobic text messages sent between officers.

"We are aghast, appalled and very much disappointed," said NAACP San Francisco President Rev. Amos Brown.

Officers Michael Robison, Noel Schwab, Rain Daughtery and Michael Celis have been reassigned away from the public. The texts range from October, 2011 to June, 2012 but emerged Friday in former Officer Ian Furminger's appeal of a federal corruption conviction.

The texts target gays, Filipinos and Latinos but particularly African-Americans.

In one, Furminger writes "Cross burning lowers blood pressure! I did the test myself!" He also describes his home as that of a "White Power Family." One cop texted Furminger about lynching and mutilating black people.

"These comments were private comments from one private phone to another, intended for an audience of one person. And so the notion of this case is that we no longer have privacy," said Tony Brass, the attorney Robison and Celis.

Slurs were also used against the Yulanda Williams, the African-American SFPD Sergeant who heads Officers For Justice.

"They were despicable and sickening and unacceptable conduct," said Williams. Her organization said the texts appear to be hate crimes and she believes higher ranking officers may be involved.

Police Chief Greg Suhr on Friday indicated to KTVU he hopes to have the officers fired after an Internal Affairs investigation and a Police Commission hearing.

Mayor Ed Lee late Monday also weighed in against the officers.

"It is both shocking and disturbing to hear that four San Francisco police officers are under investigation for such heinous and despicable statements," said Lee in a statement. "If these statements are attributable to any San Francisco Police officer, I join Police Chief Greg Suhr in seeking nothing less than termination."

Brass said his clients realize their law enforcement careers may be coming to an end. 

"The comments themselves are a tragedy and they cannot be reconciled with the citizens of San Francisco embracing these police officers anymore," Brass told reporters Monday morning outside the Federal Building in San Francisco.

"[Furminger's] disappointed that he's being misrepresented. [The texts are] being taken totally out context," Furminger's attorney Brian Getz told KTVU. "He is the most tolerant person you've ever met in your life. What makes it a joke is everyone knows he's not like that."

In a statement Monday afternoon, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, "My office is conducting an immediate assessment of every prosecution within the past ten years where these officers were involved. I have also asked the SFPD for any records they may have that will ensure the assessment is conducted thoroughly."

The San Francisco Public Defender's Office said it has identified about one hundred cases involving the officers to be reviewed for racial bias.

"If a person expresses racial prejudice at home, chances are they're going to do it at the job," Public Defender Jeff Adachi told KTVU.