The day after Torrance police shot Christopher DeAndre Mitchell in 2018, his mother and a dozen of his loved ones staged a protest outside the department’s headquarters.
At the same time, a group of officers — including the two who had killed Mitchell — were discussing the situation via text message.
“Was going to tell you all those [N-word] family members are all pissed off in front of the station,” one wrote, according to court documents recently reviewed by The Times.
Court records show the officers later mused about what might happen once the identities of those who shot the 23-year-old became public.
“Gun cleaning Party at my house when they release my name??” one asked.
Yes absolutely let’s all just post in your yard with lawn chairs in a [firing] squad,” another replied.
Eight months ago, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed portions of racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by at least a dozen Torrance police officers, a scandal that sparked an investigation by the California attorney general’s office.
Criminal cases in which the officers were involved continue to be dismissed, and at least one man has been released from prison. Lawsuits filed against officers involved have already cost Torrance more than $10 million. Still, most of the officers implicated remain employed by the city.
The state attorney general’s office filed a subpoena in May for thousands of pages of Torrance police records, but officials have declined to provide updates on the state investigation. Despite critics’ calls for a civilian board to oversee the Police Department — as Los Angeles has — there’s little evidence that Torrance officials have taken tangible steps toward reform since the scandal exploded.
And earlier this year, another trove of offensive texts came to light.
In response to a court filing from officers implicated in the scandal, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office submitted an exhibit containing all 390 “anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic or transphobic remarks” allegedly made by the officers between 2018 and 2020. The documents, which were heavily redacted, included the comments about Mitchell’s loved ones and contained racist cartoons of Black and Latino residents as well as remarks about lynching suspects and killing Black children.
Officers have long been trying to suppress evidence of the texts, which were found last year shortly before prosecutors charged former Torrance police officers Christopher Tomsic and Cody Weldin with spray-painting a swastika inside a car.
A search warrant executed as part of that case found Tomsic, Weldin and at least 15 other officers had been exchanging racist, violent and homophobic messages for years, court records show. The officers’ attorneys argued the search went way beyond the scope of the criminal investigation, so most of the texts should be barred from use in prosecutions or internal disciplinary hearings.
Ironically, it was that move to suppress the texts that made them available, after the district attorney’s office filed its report on the messages in court.
Racist cops cost taxpayer billions in lawsuits and kill thousands every year, and yet we continue to put up with these state-sanctioned murder gangs.
We should do much, much less of that.
Black Lives Still Matter.