Government documents and multiple sources confirm that the four Torrance police officers embroiled in the racist text scandal that shocked the community and added to concerns about racism and accountability within the agency following the fatal shooting of Christopher De’Andre Mitchell in 2018 have been terminated.
Due to the investigation into the scandal, the Police Department would not comment on whether or not the officers were terminated. According to Police Chief Jeremiah Hart, the department is updating its policies and instituting reforms in tandem with the US Department of Justice to restore public trust.
At least two fired officers are represented by Rancho Cucamonga lawyer Thomas Yu, but he has ignored multiple requests for comment. The Daily Breeze attempted to contact the fired officers through various means (including databases and social media) but was unsuccessful.
Nonetheless, Yu has previously criticized the city’s methods for obtaining the texts at the heart of the scandal.
Jokes about having “gassed the Jews,” urinating on a Black man, and beating up a woman can be found in the texts sent between July 2018 and February 2020. They use several different forms of the N-word and other derogatory terms, such as “monkeys,” “moon crickets,” and “savages,” to describe those in detention.
When the texts were discovered for the first time in December 2021, 15 officers were placed on administrative leave, and the public demanded severe repercussions. After a year, we may finally see some results from our efforts. Over the past few months, four officers with ties to the scandal have vanished from the official staff roster.
The Daily Breeze obtained the documents through multiple public records requests, and they show that the last day all four employees were listed on the staff roster was August 29 and that they were all gone from the roster by December 5. The city’s human resources department and an anonymous source familiar with the investigation confirmed that the four officers in question have been “terminated.” Neither party is authorized to publicly discuss the research or police personnel matters.
However, being terminated does not always indicate dismissal.
According to the HR representative in Torrance, there are two types of departures from the city: termination and retirement. Therefore, there is a wide range of possible outcomes when an employee is “terminated.”
Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, any information regarding disciplinary action taken as a result of the texting scandal must remain confidential.
Staff rosters and the anonymous source both agree that Brian Kawamoto, Joshua Satterfield, Omar Alonso, and Anthony Chavez have been let go from the police department.
Sheila Bates, a Black Lives Matter activist, expressed her approval of the firings in a recent interview.
Bates expressed her relief that the officers in question had been removed from duty with the Torrance Police Department, saying that she hoped “those who had a say in it saw the light that they should have been fired.”
Bates also expressed hope that the two would be unable to find employment elsewhere. They did a lot of damage to the neighborhood.
Since the December 2018 police shooting death of Mitchell, a Black man, there have been calls for reform and accountability within the Torrance Police Department. Officer Chavez, who was fired, was one of two police officers who shot Mitchell, and he was cleared of any wrongdoing in November 2019 by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
Months after Mitchell’s death, Black Lives Matter activists protested at Torrance City Council meetings. In May 2019, Bates was one of four protesters arrested at a meeting. She later sued the city of Torrance, claiming that four police officers, including the now-fired officer Kawamoto, had tackled her violently. This year she finally got around to settling the case.
As Hart explained at a press conference in August 2021, two officers have terminated in March 2020 for spray painting a swastika inside a resident’s car, an incident that drew additional criticism to the department in January 2020.
The investigation into the swastika incident revealed years of hateful, racist, antisemitic, and misogynistic messages shared by officers to the public.
The city obtained a search warrant for the cell phones of two officers involved in the swastika incident, which is how investigators discovered the trove of texts sent between July 2018 and February 2020, a finding that Yu has repeatedly criticized in public statements and court filings.
In a court filing late last year, Yu argued that the texts should be suppressed and destroyed because “the sweeping information extracted from the search warrant threatens the privacy protections promised to all Californians.” The DA’s office stated on the 26th that the request had been turned down.
In December 2021, Attorney General Rob Bonta opened an investigation into the racist texts, and this August, the Daily Breeze obtained a copy of all 390 messages that contain or reference antisemitic, racist, homophobic, or transphobic remarks made by current or former officers.
After the officers’ full extent of hate and racism was revealed, the scandal and calls for accountability erupted again.
Along with the four officers who have mysteriously vanished from the roster, there have been hints of disciplinary action on the agendas of the Torrance Civil Service Commission. All police officers subject to disciplinary action, including termination, have the right to appeal the decision to the Civil Service Commission and then to the City Council.