DeSaulnier, Garamendi ask for U.S. DOJ investigation into Antioch PD following reports of racist, violent, unconstitutional conduct

Video screenshots of Rep. DeSaulnier on Twitter on Thursday, April 20, 2023. and Rep. Garamendi on Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation TV show on Sunday, April 23, 2023 discuss the Antioch Police scandal.

NOTE: Apologies for the delay in publishing this press release which was not viewed in our email until today, Tuesday, April 25, 2023.

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, April 20, 2023, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10) and John Garamendi (CA-08) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the Antioch Police Department (APD) in Antioch, California following extremely troubling reports of racist, homophobic, and illegal conduct by law enforcement officers, demonstrating a pattern of unconstitutional discrimination, use of force, and violations of the constitutional rights of Antioch citizens.

“The recent report from the joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office revealed shocking and disturbing text messages and communications involving nearly four dozen former and current Antioch officers. In these messages, officers used racial slurs, shared homophobic and sexist comments, made threats against the Mayor, and revealed blatant violations of citizens’ constitutional rights. In one example, an APD officer admitted that he has falsified police reports to indicate that a suspect confessed when they had not. The messages also reveal disturbing images shared between the officers of citizens they have assaulted in hospital beds, and alarming comments and photos depicting and referencing African Americans as gorillas and monkeys,” the Members wrote.

“From this report, we know that at least 45 officers are involved in the specific text messages referenced, which is over half of the total 99 sworn officers currently employed by the Antioch Police Department. The messages in this report paint a clear picture of a systemic culture of racism, intolerance, and cruelty at the Antioch Police Department that is unacceptable for those sworn to protect and serve their community.”

“Given the egregiousness of the behavior outlined in the joint FBI and District Attorney’s report and the number of officers involved, we request that the Department initiate a Section 12601 investigation, or any other appropriate investigative or remediation effort, and respectfully request a response to this inquiry by May 5, 2023.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

DeSaulnier took to social media to further express his feelings about the actions by Antioch police officers. In a tweet of a video of him speaking on the matter on his official Twitter feed on Thursday, DeSaulnier wrote, “I am horrified by the reported conduct of officers in the Antioch Police Department.”

Garamendi appeared on Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation show on MSNBC on Sunday to discuss the matter. In a tweet on his official Twitter feed on Monday, Garamendi wrote, “The despicable, racist, and immoral statements made by Antioch Police Department officers must be thoroughly investigated by the United States Department of Justice.”

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

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