Despite their claims of “industrial injuries” in sworn documents, the Antioch officers are suspected of leading normal lives and attending events such as “pool parties” and “driving tractors.”
Five Antioch officers allegedly involved in a racist texting scandal are being accused of avoiding subpoenas by falsely claiming they are too injured to testify about the inflammatory messages, as revealed in court on Friday, according to attorney Carmela Caramagno
These allegations came to light during the court’s first comprehensive examination of the racist text messages that have been causing significant turmoil within the Antioch Police Department. The content of these messages, along with the Antioch officers’ apparent impunity in sending and receiving them, forms the basis of a challenge made by attorneys against charges faced by four men, Terryonn Pugh, Trent Allen, Eric Windom, and Keyshawn McGee, who are accused of multiple gang-related crimes. Two of these men were mentioned in the Antioch officers’ texts.
Under the state’s Racial Justice Act, the defense attorneys argue that all four men were unfairly charged due to racist policing practices within the Antioch Police Department. Judge David Goldstein has already removed sentencing enhancements against the defendants, citing potential unfair targeting of Black individuals in charging decisions by the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
The ongoing FBI probe into the Antioch and Pittsburg police forces has uncovered racist and homophobic text messages involving at least a dozen officers. Eric Rombough, one of the Antioch officers implicated, was expected to testify during the court session but was not called upon. He has been accused of kicking a defendant in the head, and text messages show him making racist comments and boasting about using non-lethal rounds on Black individuals.
Outside the courthouse, demonstrators rallied against racism and discrimination, holding signs with quotes from the offensive texts sent by Antioch officers over the years
The hearing raises concerns about the integrity of the legal system and the need for accountability in the face of bigotry and racism within the department.
Recently, Antioch Police Chief Steven Ford announced his retirement amid the ongoing investigations and controversies plaguing the department. His departure comes after less than a year in the position, during which he aimed to reform the department. Ford’s decision to step down followed the discovery of additional racist text messages involving his own officers referring to him with a gorilla emoji.
Judge Goldstein ruled that Chief Ford was not required to testify at the Racial Justice Act hearing, as he joined the department after the racist texts were sent. The hearing is set to continue on August 25, with eight Antioch officers expected to provide testimony about the offensive messages and practices within the Antioch Police Department.