Racist, homophobic texts from Torrance police revealed; probe launched

A slew of bigoted texts from Torrance Police Department officers has led to the dismissal of at least 85 criminal court cases.

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California’s Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Torrance Police Department on Wednesday in response to a developing scandal involving a slew of bigoted text messages sent by the department’s officers.

The city of Torrance is a racially diverse community of more than 143,000 people that sits along the Pacific coast about 18.5 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Its police department told theGrio Wednesday that it employs about 220 officers.

A Los Angeles Times investigation released Wednesday shows more than a dozen current and former Torrance police officers were responsible for sending and receiving a large number of racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic texts to one another.

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Police investigate the scene of a shooting that left three men dead and four injured at Gable House Bowl on January 5, 2019 in Torrance, California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Some of the messages contained hateful jokes about hanging and shooting Black people. One included a photo of Black men who had been lynched. The photo’s caption read, “hanging with my homies,” according to the LA Times.

Another text included a photo that asked what a person should do if their girlfriend has an affair with a Black man. The photo’s caption, the LA Times reported, said that person should break, “a tail light on his car so the police will stop him and shoot him.”

Another officer’s text included a picture of a candy cane, a Christmas ornament, a Christmas tree star, and an “enslaved person.”

The photo’s caption asked recipients, “Which one doesn’t belong?” to which one of the recipients replied, “You don’t hang the star.”

The implicated officers worked on at least 85 criminal court cases that have since been dismissed due to the scandal, which has also led to several cops getting fired, according to the LA Times.

District attorney records revealed other texts included jokes about “gassing” Jewish people, attacking members of the LGBTQ community, assaulting suspects, and lying during a police shooting investigation, according to the LA Times.

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference outside of an Amazon distribution facility on November 15, 2021 in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced an independent review of the Torrance Police Department on Wednesday in response to the scandal. Bonta’s office told theGrio the probe is “part of an effort to identify and correct potential systemic failures in the department’s policies and practices.”

“Our communities deserve to know they can get equal justice under the law,” Bonta told theGrio in an emailed statement. “Police departments are on the front lines of that fight every day as they work to protect the people of our state. However, where there is evidence of potentially pervasive bias or discrimination, it can undermine the trust that is critical for public safety and our justice system.”

Bonta’s statement said Torrance Police Chief Jay Hart requested the probe after the scandal was brought to his attention.

“As Police Chief of the Torrance Police Department, I am committed to accountability, and I will not tolerate any form of bigotry, racism, hate, or misconduct,” Hart told theGrio in a joint emailed statement. “In partnership with Attorney General Bonta, I will ensure that needed changes are implemented to regain the public’s trust and confidence.”

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