Christopher DeAndre Mitchell, 23, was shot and killed by Torrance police in 2018. The Los Angeles Times obtained messages shared between the officers, making racist comments about Mitchell’s family and mocking his killing. For all these years, they were still employed, working among Black people unaware of their bigotry.
Reports say back in December 2018, officers responded to a call about a stolen car. Police alleged Mitchell was armed with a rifle in the stolen vehicle. When the officers arrived on the scene, they shot him within 15 seconds. Per the video footage, Mitchell’s hands were in the air and later, the “weapon” was identified as a toy air rifle. This is what the officers discussed following the incident and the protests.
“Was going to tell you all those [N-word] family members are all pissed off in front of the station,” said one officer, per court documents obtained by The Times.
“Gun cleaning party at my house when they release my name??” one asked, in reference to the release of their identities.
More on the text messages from the LA Times:
Eight months ago, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed portions of racist and homophobic text messages exchanged by at least a dozen Torrance police officers, a scandal that sparked an investigation by the California attorney general’s office.
Criminal cases in which the officers were involved continue to be dismissed, and at least one man has been released from prison. Lawsuits filed against officers involved have already cost Torrance more than $10 million. Still, most of the officers implicated remain employed by the city.
The state attorney general’s office filed a subpoena in May for thousands of pages of Torrance police records, but officials have declined to provide updates on the state investigation. Despite critics’ calls for a civilian board to oversee the Police Department — as Los Angeles has — there’s little evidence that Torrance officials have taken tangible steps toward reform since the scandal exploded.
From spray-painting swastikas, calling Black kids “nigglet,” to sharing a slew of racist cartoons and slurs, The Times’ investigation exposed the truly unhinged behavior of these people appointed to protect the community. It makes you wonder how many people traded their Klan hoods for a badge and gun.
Per the LA Times, Torrance Police Department Sgt. Mark Ponegalek insisted the agency is moving toward reform. The lawsuits against their officers have cost up to $10 million so far.
The department may put some pep in their step because money is involved. However, the extensive and continuous racist messaging shows this department has much more to do than surface level anti-bias training.