(KRON) — Civil rights attorney John Burris will file a federal lawsuit against the City of Antioch and members of the Antioch Police Department, he announced Wednesday. The police department is currently under investigation by the FBI and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office for “crimes of moral turpitude” and criminal offenses. Recently released documents showed officers use racist speech in text messages.

Burris will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Thursday morning on the steps of the APD building.

“It’s criminal that these officers who are supposedly ‘serving and protecting’ the community have conducted themselves in such an openly outrageous manner that the community should be as afraid of the Antioch Police officers as they are of the criminals in the street,” Burris said.

Forty-five officers are embroiled in the scandal, according to Contra Costa County chief public defender Ellen McDonnell, 16 of which are in management positions. At least eight officers have been suspended.

The DA’s office released a 21-page report on April 13, followed by a second, 14-page report on Monday. The texts were described by police chief Steve Ford as “racially abhorrent.”

Among the offenses Antioch officers are accused of committing is comparing Black people to animals, such as monkeys and water buffalo. “Bro the circus is in town… but it seems they only brought monkeys,” Officer Aaron Hughes wrote on May 4, 2020, according to a report from the DA’s office.

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On Nov. 22, 2021, Officer Eric Rombough appeared to admit to racial profiling, texting “I’m only stopping them cuz they black.” Rombough also texted on January 24, 2022, “Bottom line it doesn’t matter some gorilla killed another gorilla,” according to the report.

Seventeen officers have been named in the two reports:

  • Sergeant Josh Evans
  • Sergeant Rick Hoffman (President of the Antioch Police Officers’ Association)
  • Officer Eric Rombough
  • Detective Robert Gerber
  • Officer Jonathan Adams
  • Officer Morteza Amiri
  • Officer Scott Duggar
  • Officer Tom Smith
  • Officer Brock Marcotte
  • Officer Timothy Manly Williams
  • Officer Aaron Hughes
  • Officer Brayton Milner
  • Officer Calvin Prieto
  • Officer John Ramirez
  • Officer Andrea Rodriguez
  • Officer Kyle Smith
  • Officer Devon Wenger

Antioch community members held a protest on Tuesday afternoon, asking for accountability from Antioch leadership. Community members also packed Antioch’s Tuesday city council meeting, demanding a full investigation into the department.