Payton Perspective: We need innocent Antioch Police officers in text scandal back to work

Those who merely received the offensive texts need to be protecting us; DA must release all pages of texts

By Allen D. Payton

It’s time the Antioch Police officers caught up in the scandal of racist and other offensive texts who merely received but didn’t send any of the texts got back to work. With 35 sworn officers currently on paid administrative leave in both the FBI and DA investigation from last year and those included in the text scandal this year, that’s more than one-third of the current officers on the force.  The understaffing is putting us all at risk. In addition, for the purpose of transparency, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office needs to release all pages of the texts so the public can read what was sent and the context.

As of June 12th, there were 98 sworn officers on staff with the department out of 115 authorized in the budget, and 49 on full duty. That’s 0.43 officers per 1,000 on duty. The goal has been 1.2 officers per 1,000 for the past 25 years, which has never been achieved. Minimally we should have 1.0 officers per 1,000 population.

The officers in the text scandal have been on leave for about three months and the investigation has been under way for almost two months – leaving our community less protected and less safe.

Those officers who didn’t send any of the offensive texts, but merely received them and didn’t respond – which is most of them – should have been interviewed, first during the investigation. Unless other information has been discovered during the process, those officers need to be cleared and put back to work protecting Antioch residents and businesses.

For example, as previously reported, on Independence Day, Tuesday, July 4th it took officers an hour to respond to a dangerous sideshow at the intersection of Lone Tree Way and Blue Rock Drive/Golf Course Road because those on duty were dealing with two shootings on the other side of town. In addition, according to a Con Fire spokesman, an ambulance transporting someone to a local hospital had to be diverted around the sideshow. Fortunately, it didn’t have an impact on the patient. But minutes can make a difference in saving someone’s life.

All 35 officers should not be fired, as Mayor Lamar Thorpe twice wrote should happen immediately, first on May 19 then again on June  12, Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker wrote on May 18 and other members of the public have called for. That’s irresponsible and dangerous for our city with a population of over 115,000 residents. Besides, the council members have no say in which officer will or won’t be fired and it’s out of their area of responsibility to call for such a thing, and merely pandering to the public and grandstanding. Frankly, the council members’ calls for the termination of all officers involved could serve to undermine the effort to terminate some of the officers and give them a legal argument that it was done due to political pressure.

The councilmembers know or at least should know better, and that the City must follow the Skelly Hearing disciplinary process and the investigation must be done in accordance with the California Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act.

As the East Bay Times’ Editorial Board wrote, “they are entitled to due process. Not all of them have equal culpability. And if their rights are not respected, the city risks undermining the ongoing criminal and internal affairs investigations into their behavior, which would set back the quest for racial justice. Which is why City Council members, especially Mayor Lamar Thorpe, need to step back and let investigators do their work — and stop making politically charged comments that could jeopardize the outcome.”

As I wrote in April, those in APD leadership who received the texts, as a form of discipline for not paying attention to what the officers they were in charge of were doing, need to be demoted. But they should still be put back to work, also.

The focus of the council, police department and investigators must be two-fold: one, terminating and/or disciplining the guilty officers, and two, keeping Antioch safe.

DA Must Release All Pages of Texts

It’s also time the DA’s office released all the pages of the texts to clear up the claims that the the two reports by the D.A. Office’s Inspector Wallace were “misleading and distorted” according to the APOA’s attorney, and the texts included were cherry picked and edited, so the public can see the context in which they were all written. (See related articles here and here)

One text message specifically in question is the following: On 04/24/2020, at 5:49 p.m., APD Sgt. Josh Evans text APD Officer Amiri, “I’ll bury that n****r in my fields.” APD Officer Amiri laughed at the above comment.

A Public Records Act request by this news organization was made on April 27 and denied on May 2.

Deputy District Attorney Sophea Nop denied the request claiming “these records are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act pursuant to GC (Government Code) §7923.6000(a) and §7927.705.”

According to, the first section referenced “does not require the disclosure of records of complaints to, or investigations conducted by, or records of intelligence information or security procedures of, the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, the Office of Emergency Services and any state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local police agency, or any investigatory or security files compiled by any other state or local agency for correctional, law enforcement, or licensing purposes.” The second section referenced “does not require disclosure of records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.”

Nop was informed that those close to Sgt. Evans have said that his text was taken out of context and was in response to a joke about another officer being with Evans’ wife in their yard and Evans was referring to that make believe officer who doesn’t actually exist.

She was then asked to at least provide the complete text exchange between Amiri and Evans prior to that message which was included in the first report.

Nop was asked via email, “How can the public know the context of some of the messages – which officers and others are claiming were taken out of context – if the complete text message exchanges are not provided?” She did not respond.

While I don’t believe it will change much regarding the outcome for the five or six officers who sent the offensive texts and are being sued, for the purpose of transparency, all the texts in their original form must be released.

All pages of the texts are expected to be made available to attorneys representing the officers during the discovery phase of the lawsuit. Perhaps at that time they will also be made available to this and other news organizations for the public to read.

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply