Prosecutors in Broward County, Fla., have dropped more than three dozen criminal cases connected to four former police officers embroiled in a racism scandal, according to CBS Miami.
The move comes after three Fort Lauderdale police officers—Jason Holding, 31; James Wells, 30; and Christopher Sousa, 25—were fired last month after a five-month investigation into a racist video and a litany of racist text messages. A fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, 22, resigned in January.
Since then, prosecutors have been reviewing arrests made by the officers and confirmed Thursday that they “plan to drop 17 misdemeanor cases where the officers were the main officer involved in the case and they have already dropped 12 felony cases, eight misdemeanor cases and one juvenile case,” the report notes.
CBS Miami says that Broward State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy said that all of the defendants in the cases are black and that the felony charges include such offenses as aggravated assault with a firearm, drug possession, grand theft and unlawful possession of someone’s personal identification.
“This is a serious matter,” Ishoy said, according to the television news outlet. “We continue to review each case in which these former policemen were the principal officers involved in the arrest. We are dropping charges against the defendants where it is appropriate.”
Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes said that dropping the cases was merely the first step in righting wrongs committed by xenophobic officers, the report says.
“These officers’ behavior has shown that their credibility is going to be called into question,” Weekes said. “Their police work is going to be called into question, and every single case that they had any involvement should be called into question to make sure that their racist and offensive communications and bias did not creep into that investigation.”
During the probe, investigators uncovered a mock movie trailer created by Alvarez showing President Barack Obama with gold teeth and images of the Ku Klux Klan. Investigators said that Alvarez shared the video with the three other officers, who traded text messages that demeaned and openly talked about killing or otherwise harming black people.
Read more at CBS Miami.