Over 3,000 criminal cases are being reviewed as part of an investigation into 14 police officers who allegedly sent racist and homophobic text messages, according to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.
Investigators are reviewing the arrest files to determine whether the city’s police department engaged in racially-discriminatory practices, according to the LA Times.
If the investigators find that the officers’ actions were influenced by racial bias, cases could be dismissed or overturned. The LA Times reports that investigators have already alerted the attorneys in 60 cases that they believe could potentially be challenged.
According to some legal experts, the DA’s move is unprecedented. While district attorneys often investigate individual instances of police misconduct, broad investigations of law enforcement discrimination are traditionally carried out by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“This is extremely significant,” Randolf McLaughlin, a law professor focusing on criminal justice at PACE university told Business Insider.
“This is the first time I’m aware of a district attorney’s office conducting this kind of investigation into a department on a broad basis,” McLaughlin said. “That’s unique.”
The investigation comes after racist and homophobic text messages were revealed during the corruption trial of San Francisco police officer Ian Ferminger. The texts sparked a public outcry, leading Gascon to open the investigation into the officers involved.
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