San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is appealing a recent Superior Court decision preventing the city from firing or otherwise disciplining nine police officers who swapped bigoted text messages.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled Dec. 21 that the Police Department had allowed a one-year statute of limitations for disciplining peace officers to expire long before it began a personnel investigation into the racist, sexist, homophobic and sometimes violent messages.
But Herrera said in a prepared statement Tuesday that the court misread a provision of the law allowing the time limit to pause while a criminal prosecution is pending. In this case, that's the federal criminal probe that led to convictions of former SFPD plainclothes Sgt. Ian Furminger and two of his subordinates.
“If affirmed, this decision would seriously jeopardize the ability of local and federal agencies to cooperate on future investigations into police misconduct in California," Herrera said.
The feds shared evidence from the Furminger investigation, including text messages seized from his personal cellphone, with a group of SFPD internal affairs investigators by late 2012, attorneys for the officers successfully argued in Superior Court. The SFPD did not pursue discipline until early 2015, a few months before a federal court filing in the Furminger case made a sampling of the offensive texts public.