Contra Costa Public Defender calls on DA to pause all criminal filings, prosecutions over Antioch cops’ racist texts

Report released to defense on attorneys on Monday, Mercury News obtained, reported on it; DA’s office redacting report before releasing to other media

By Allen D. Payton

Following the release to defense attorneys on Monday, April 10, 2023, of the 21-page report of racist and offensive texts by Antioch Police Officers, which was obtained and reported on by the Mercury News on Tuesday, Contra Costa Public Defender Ellen McDonnell issued a statement calling on D.A. Diana Becton to pause all criminal filings and current prosecutions involving the department.

“I have reviewed these text messages, they are abhorrent and reprehensible. They reveal an entrenched culture of hatred, racism, homophobia, misogyny, and violence throughout the Antioch Police Department,” McDonnell wrote, “The racist, homophobic, and violent behavior of these officers will impact thousands and thousands of criminal cases including pending cases and past convictions related to the Antioch Police Department.  I have reached out to District Attorney Becton and asked that she immediately pause all criminal filings and current prosecutions involving the Antioch Police Department.  I have also requested that her office evaluate pending Antioch cases for immediate dismissal, and that they begin a comprehensive review of the many thousands of Antioch Police Department related convictions to determine which cases should be dismissed.”

“These racist text messages and the continued disclosures regarding the Antioch Police Department expose a pervasive and troubling culture which should undermine any reliance on the credibility of officers from the force,” she continued. “These text messages clearly constitute textbook violations of the California Racial Justice Act. Our office will initiate a widespread review of all cases involving the Antioch Police Department and will immediately begin seeking justice for those targeted by these officers.”

The unredacted text messages were released to the Times by attorneys for the defendants in the murder case currently being adjudicated in Contra Costa Superior Court, but not to other media. According to Contra Costa DA’s Office PIO Ted Asregadoo they will be released to the media once they’ve been redacted.

“Per Judge Clare Maier’s order on Friday, we did disclose the investigative reports in the Pugh, Windom, et al case. These are unredacted reports and they were delivered on Monday,” he wrote. “Judge Maeir’s order also specified that redacted reports could be released. We are in the process of redacting the information in the reports ordered by the judge and will notify the press when those reports are available and how to obtain them.”

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