Read the Horrifyingly Racist Texts Sent by a San Francisco Police Officer to Fellow Officers
A probe into the San Francisco Police Department uncovered dozens of racist and homophobic texts sent from former police officer Jason Lai to fellow officers, CNN reported Tuesday.
The texts, reportedly sent between Lai and other members of the SFPD, used derogatory language to discuss minorities, including racial slurs for blacks and Hispanics. During an exchange about the Baltimore protests in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, Lai referred to African Americans as “a pack of wild dogs on the loose.”
But Lai’s bigotry didn't stop there; he once texted a colleague, “Indian ppl are disgusting.” He also made veiled comments about his fellow officers, using the numeric fire code 528 to indicate gay members of the force are “flames or flaming.”
The texts came to light as part of an investigation into charges that Lai sexually assaulted a woman last year. Though prosecutors declined to file rape charges against Lai, the investigation uncovered scores of derogatory texts among Lai and four other officers. SFDP spokesman Officer Albie Esparza told CNN three of the officers are no longer with the department, while the fourth is facing disciplinary action.
In a statement to CNN, Lai’s lawyer said the texts are “not reflective of who he is,” adding there is “no evidence” that his racist sentiments impacted how he carried out his duty as a police officer.
This is the second time in two years officials have investigated the SFPD over racist texts. Last March, federal prosecutors turned up troves of racist and homophobic exchanges among officers convicted of stealing money and drugs from low-income residents. San Francisco District Attorney George GascÃ³n said that scandal prompted a review 14 officers and nearly 1,600 cases.
In an interview with CNN last week, GascÃ³n called the SFDB union “a good old boys network that does everything they can to protect the status quo.” He suggested the problem is two-fold, noting there are “a substantial number of people within the organization that are racist” as well as “a culture that has allowed those people to thrive and survive and even promote within that environment.”
GascÃ³n insisted there is no place for racism in the SFPD ranks.
“If you're somebody that actually gets to put people in jail or in worst case conditions actually take somebody's life from them, and do so lawfully, you don't get to be a racist,” GascÃ³n said.