Outgoing Antioch police chief won't testify in trial over racist text scandal

The courtroom was packed Friday as officers from the Antioch Police Department prepared to testify about racist text messages uncovered during an ongoing investigation.

The group of officers is facing accusations of violating the Racial Justice Act, a new California law aimed at eliminating racism within the criminal justice system.

The trial revolves around racist and derogatory texts with officers bragging about falsifying evidence and beating up suspects.

Defense attorneys for four men charged with murder in connection to a 2021 shooting argued that their clients were unfairly targeted because of their race, and two of them were mentioned in the text messages exchanged among the officers.

The messages revealed disturbing jokes about kicking the defendants in the head and included photos of them in the hospital.

Shirelle Cobbs, the mother of defendant Trent Allen, expressed her sentiments, stating, "He needs to be under the jailhouse right now. There needs to be accountability for the actions that he did… he should not be sitting on the other side right now."

Ellen McDonnell, the Chief Public Defender, emphasized the importance of transparency.

"It’s really critical for the community, and for those that are charged and brutalized by the Antioch Police Department, that there be full and fair disclosure and that there be a full examination," she said.

Eight officers are expected to take the stand as witnesses during the proceedings. However, the judge ruled that Police Chief Steven Ford does not have to testify. Additionally, five other officers did not appear in court, citing medical reasons for their absence.

The hearing is anticipated to continue for several days as the court delves into the evidence and testimonies concerning the racist text messages and their potential impact on the case.