ANTIOCH, Calif. (KRON) — Documents released by the Contra Costa County District Attorney on Thursday showed a long list of racist text messages sent by members of the Antioch Police Department. The texts, described by police chief Steve Ford as “racially abhorrent,” included racial slurs and officers comparing Black people to animals such as gorillas and water buffalo.

“This report documents some of the derogatory, homophobic, and sexually explicit language and photographs shared by members of the Antioch Police Department that demonstrates their racial bias and animus towards African Americans and other people of color in the community,” Senior Inspector Larry Wallace wrote.

Fourteen officers are named in the 21-page report:

  • Sergeant Josh Evans
  • Sergeant Rick Hoffman
  • Officer Jonathan Adams
  • Officer Morteza Amiri
  • Officer Scott Duggan
  • Detective Robert Gerber
  • Officer Aaron Hughes
  • Officer Brayton Milner
  • Officer Calvin Prieto
  • Officer John Ramirez
  • Officer Andrea Rodriguez
  • Officer Eric Rombough
  • Officer Kyle Smith
  • Officer Devon Wenger

This story highlights some of the racist speech used by officers. There were many other incidents mentioned in the report that KRON4 chose not to include.

Racial slurs

The report shows a number of times that various officers used the n-word. Officers said phrases such as “#Donkey (n-word),” “#Panhandling (n-word),” and “dead (n-word).”

On April 24, 2020, Sergeant Evans sent Officer Amiri a text that read, “I’ll bury that (n-word) in my fields,” followed by, “And yes…. it was a hard R on purpose.” Officer Amiri laughed at the first message and replied, “haha there’s no accidents with you on that.”

In a later text, Amiri admitted that the n-word is used frequently around the department.

Image of Officer Morteza Amiri from the City of Antioch.

Comparisons to animals

The document shows that Antioch officers sent each other images of gorillas several times over text. Other messages included content that could be interpreted as comparing Black people to animals.

“Bro the circus is in town… but it seems they only brought monkeys,” Officer Hughes wrote on May 4, 2020.

In May and June of 2020, nationwide protests broke out after a video showed Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Black man George Floyd’s neck, causing his death. When referring to protests in Los Angeles on May 27, 2020, Amiri said they were being held “For the gorilla that died,” referring to Floyd. In June, Rombough also shared a meme mocking Floyd’s murder.

Documents showed Rombough refer to people as zoo animals at least five times. On June 7, 2021, he referred to large African-American women as “water buffalo,” documents show. He also sent texts such as “so we are harassing the gorillas,” “we just ran down a monkey at sycamore,” and “bottom line it doesn’t matter some gorilla killed another gorilla.”

Image of Officer Eric Rombough from the Antioch Police Department.

Other racist incidents

On Sept. 9, 2020, Officers Rodriguez and Prieto appeared to say that they would target Black people when handing out traffic citations. Prieto said, “Make these (n-words) eat s***. Yes of course.” Rodriguez responded, “Yes that will be easy. And it will be a good time lol start off quick with the numbers.”

On Dec. 7, 2020, Rombough lamented that a suspect did not have more bruises. “I was bummed that beast was so fat cuz he didn’t bruise up very fast,” he said. Evans responded, “It never looks good on black guys.” Rombough responded, “Just like jobs and responsibilities.”

Rombough admitted to stopping people because of their race. On Nov. 22, 2021, he said, “I’m only stopping them cuz they black. F*** them. Kill each other.”

Admitting to misconduct

Officers also made it clear in these texts that they would target Black people for criminal punishment. After receiving a message from Officer Amiri on Jan. 17, 2020, about Amiri’s plan to increase arrests in March, Officer Rombough, replied, “lol driving while black.”

Beyond the racism, officers freely spoke about committing general misconduct, the report shows. In a text to Brentwood Police Department officer Lindzie Laughridge, Amiri said, “Since we don’t have video I sometimes just say people gave me a full confession when they didn’t. gets filed easier.”

On Aug. 22, 2020, Amiri and Wenger were discussing an arrest made in Pittsburg where the suspect was taken into custody using Amiri’s police K-9.

“If Pitt didn’t have all those body cams and that was us… we would have f***ed him up more. He didn’t get what he deserve,” Amiri said.