Prosecutors have decided to expand an ongoing investigation into alleged San Francisco police racism cases. 14 police officers are involved in this recent scandal where racist and homophobic text messages are believed to have influenced over 3,000 arrests.
District Attorney George Gascon explains that the 3,000 cases that have been identified by authorities could have resulted in wrongful convictions. A special taskforce has been created to thoroughly comb through each case in order to decide whether dismissals of pending cases or conviction overturns are in order.
Three retired judges have been asked to participate in the investigation as members of this special taskforce whose goal is to scrutinize the 3,000 cases and determine whether misconduct, racial biases or homophobia had led to any unjust arrests or prosecutions.
Former California Supreme Court justice, Cruz Reynoso, is among the three judges called in. Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell and Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr. are the other two who were selected to join the task force.
This most recent investigation, which the attorney general announced on Thursday, is only the most recent in a series of similar inquiries. Other cities have already faced noteworthy protests concerning the deep-seated culture of police racial bias and how it influences arrests and prosecutions.
Eight criminal cases have already been dismissed by the district attorney due to their connection with one of the 14 San Francisco police officers currently under investigation. Upon discovering that these officers had repeatedly exchanged homophobic and racist text messages, the DA concluded that their judgement may have been clouded by unjustified preconceptions.
“If just one individual was wrongly imprisoned because of bias on the part of these officers — that’s one too many,” district attorney Gascon noted.
D.A. Gascon explained that the task force will award priority to those cases involving incarcerations. Although a number of 60 to 70 cases have already been identified as involving individuals in custody, he noted that those numbers will continue to fluctuate as the investigation continues.
This entire scandal began when a former San Francisco police officer, Ian Furminger’s bail motion was opposed. His text messages included worrisome references to African American citizens as well as homosexuals.
Since then, 14 police officers were identified as having also sent similar texts. According to Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Chief, at least six of the involved 14 officers should be fired.
The DA’s reasoning is that a juror should never be put in the position of questioning the credibility of an arresting officer. Additionally, the evidence that this officer is providing should also not be questioned, but when racial or homophobic biases come into play, one cannot fail to ask himself whether the process wasn’t tainted.
Given the recen increase in similar cases, the public is already questioning the vetting process involved in choosing potential candidates joining the police force.
Both the magnitude and the consistency with which police brutality has recently surfaced suggests that a reevaluation of the criteria being used to hire police officers may be in order. Police protection and justice should, of course, go hand in hand. But that justice should be offered to all citizens, regardless of ethnical, racial or sexual differences.
Whether police misconduct is encouraged by the high honor that police officers are given remains to be seen.
Image Source: SF Examiner
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