April 7, 2023
Statement By DA Diana Becton on Disclosure of Racist Texts in Felony Case
Today, Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Clare Maier ruled on the disclosure of information that centers on racist text messages exchanged by Antioch Police officers.
For over a year, the FBI and the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office have engaged in a joint federal and state criminal investigation of sworn law enforcement officers from the Antioch Police Department and Pittsburg Police Department. The broad range of offenses under investigation involve crimes of moral turpitude.
Due to the sensitivity and scope of the investigation, a court procedure was established to balance the integrity of the criminal investigation with the disclosure of exculpatory information (i.e., evidence that is beneficial to a defendant).
In accordance with legal precedent, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office has been scrupulous in maintaining the balance as the court constructed.
Recently, additional information has come to light in which police misconduct directly overlaps and impacts a charged felony case.
The joint investigation with the FBI has revealed that Antioch Police officers exchanged text messages which contain unambiguously and historically racist speech directed toward the suspects the officers were investigating.
The racial animus expressed by officers in the recovered text messages trigger additional statutory concerns under the Racial Justice Act.
In seeking further direction from the court, the DA’s Office and the defense appeared in front of Judge Maier on April 4th to present information detailing the overlap of the officers’ misconduct and a charged felony case.
In her ruling today, Judge Maier said that the offensive texts in the two investigative reports shall be disclosed to the defense in the charged felony case. She added, the reports will be redacted to shield cell phone numbers and urged caution in the distribution of the language and images contained in the texts as they can spark more hatred toward Blacks and Latinos.
The integrity of the joint investigation and legal requirements for the disclosure of exculpatory evidence is of paramount importance to the District Attorney’s Office. Our office will continue to work tirelessly to ensure public trust and public safety for the residents of Contra Costa County.
District Attorney, Contra Costa County