San Francisco chief releases racist texts

S.F. Public Defender Jeff Adachi gestures while standing beside a picture of police officer Jason Lai. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's police chief has ordered effective immediately that all officers attend an anti-harassment class, even as he released more transcripts of a former lieutenant and two former officers exchanging racist text messages.

Investigators found the text messages on the personal phones of the officers during criminal probes of former officer Jason Lai and retired Lt. Curtis Liu.

Police Chief Greg Suhr provided additional transcripts and copies of photos with racist captions that were found on Liu's phone to The Associated Press Thursday. He also provided additional transcripts found on Lai's phones.

Suhr is set to announce the new anti-harassment training Friday and unveil other steps he's taking to combat bias in the department. It's the second racist text scandal the department has endured since 2014.

"The vast majority of police officers are shaken," Suhr said. "The expectations have never been higher, so when officers do something like this, the disappointment can't be greater."

Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday emailed every officer in the department of 2,100 a letter urging them to turn in colleagues who display intolerant behavior.

The names of those involved in the racist and homophobic conversations Suhr provided were redacted. Suhr said that Lai, Liu and an unidentified third former officer sent and received many of the messages. He also said several civilians were involved in the conversations.

Lai resigned earlier this month and Liu retired last year. The unidentified officer also resigned and fourth officer also implicated in the texting scandal Suhr declined to identify is facing dismissal before the city's Police Commission.

The newly provided transcripts denigrate minority suspects with racial slurs and they insult colleagues they perceive to be gay. They ridicule blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, where police shot and killed an unarmed black man, calling a picture of a burnt turkey a "Ferguson turkey."

They discuss a shootout among black men and the shooting of an armed suspect by police. In doing so, they appear to ridicule the shooting death by police in 2014 of a mentally ill man carrying a stun gun officers mistook for a handgun.

They also exchanged photographs with racist captions.

One photo depicts a white man playfully spraying a young black child with a garden hose. The caption calls the young boy a racial slur.

There's a photo of smoke rising above San Francisco and guesses are exchanged about the origins of the fire.

"Must be Korean BBQ," quips one.

"I heard was a slave ship!!" quips another.

Lai was accused of sexual assault in August. Liu was charged Wednesday with a felony for allegedly lying to investigators looking into the Lai rape allegation.

Public defender Jeff Adachi released transcripts of racist text messages Lai sent earlier in the week. Adachi received the transcripts because he is representing a defendant Lai helped investigate.

Liu's attorney Tony Brass said Thursday night that the texts investigators turned over to him show Liu only on the receiving end. But Brass said he may not be privy to all Liu's texts, only the ones that pertain to his criminal case.

"But I can say that there have not been a single allegation that Curtis Liu has ever displayed any racist behavior," Brass said. "That doesn't mean it's acceptable to proliferate racist images and words. But he has never been accused of being a racist."

Lai's attorney Don Nobles didn't return a call late Thursday night.

PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The Gayly - 4/29/2016 @ 9:51 a.m. CDT