For release on October 22, 2020
Assistant District Attorney
DA’s Office Moves to Dismiss Set of Cases Handled by Police Officers
in Racist Facebook Postings
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office will move to dismiss over a dozen criminal cases that were handled by police officers who posted racist comments on a social media site.
The move comes after a comprehensive review of hundreds of cases by a 20-member team of prosecutors and support staff.
The DA’s Office today sent out dozens of letters to defense attorneys and the Public Defender’s Office documenting the dismissals and offering to hear further information on other cases directly handled by the San Jose Police Department officers, some of whom were active at the time of the posting. If the Office hears of evidence that further cases are compromised, that evidence will be reviewed for potential dismissals.
District Attorney Jeff Rosen said: “Our community has the right to feel secure that the criminal cases we file in this county are untainted by prejudice. I have the obligation to ensure these cases are untainted by prejudice.”
In late June, a journalist with the Metro newspaper reported the existence of a Facebook group that includes numerous law enforcement officers, retired and active. While the Facebook group was largely concerned with mundane topics, some posted virulently racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and bigoted comments. The probe identified five police officers who were active at the time if the postings.
The Office compiled a list of every case in which any one of the Facebook group officers who made the bigoted posts was noticed as a witness in our system. The Office identified 14 cases in which we believe the integrity of the case has been so compromised that the Office can no longer stand by the conviction. All of these cases are misdemeanors, with a majority of them involving driving issues or resisting arrest.
In dozens more, we are disclosing to the defense the involvement of these officers, so that they can do a review and file any court challenges to the convictions. The Office also has acted to make sure that if any of these officers are called to testify in pending or future cases, it will be able to notify the prosecutor and defense attorney so appropriate steps can be taken.