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Police Trading Homophobic, Racist Texts Jeopardize Hundreds of Cases

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About a dozen officers reportedly sent messages referencing gassing Jewish people, punching LGBTQ+ community members, and lynching Black men. 

There are now hundreds of cases on the line after an investigation found police officers in Torrance, Calif. Had been sending each other homophobic, sexist, racist, and xenophobic text messages. These officers served as witnesses for the cases they were discussing or made the arrests.

The texts between about a dozen officers contain references to lynching, gassing Jewish people, and enslaving others, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Texts showed that the officers joked about attacking LGBTQ+ people, reports the paper.

Other messages include a photo of Black men who had been lynched that was captioned, "Hanging with the homies." Another text asked what would happen if one of the officers' girlfriends had an affair with a Black man. The officer replied back that he would smash "a tail light on his car so the police will stop him and shoot him."

No officers are currently facing charges related to the text messages, but about 85 criminal cases that involved the officers have so far been dismissed. That includes 35 county felony cases and 50 city cases.

The officers were listed as potential witnesses in almost 1,400 cases over the last decade, according to the Times' investigation.

"What those text messages revealed was an extraordinarily hostile attitude toward people of color, people who are nonbinary, people who have different sexual orientations," Walter Katz, a former independent police auditor in California who now serves as a vice president of criminal justice for research firm Arnold Ventures, told the paper. "I don't know that we can take anything they've said at face value."

Several of the officers connected to the texting have also been previously sued for alleged excessive force, false arrest, and wrongful death, according to court records. And some of those cases involved individuals who are the same ethnic group that the officers mocked in text messages.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said the messages are evidence there are Torrance officers harboring hate for those they serve.

"It creates a tremendous amount of concern for me. We have a group of officers who, apparently in addition to harboring very biased and racist beliefs, also may be engaging in inappropriate force that could be illegal in some cases," he said, reported the Times.

"The current administrative investigations are confidential. As such, we do not have access to facts of the underlying investigation, or the alleged inappropriate materials. We expect that as police officers, our members should be treated like any other citizen -- considered innocent until proven guilty," the police union said in a statement. "Our members have a right to due process and should be protected from illegal and unnecessary intrusion into their private lives."

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