MARTINEZ — On Friday morning, Antioch cops had been anticipated to reply questions underneath oath about racism inside their very own division for the primary time since a cascade of scandals revealed prejudice and alleged criminality amongst their ranks, however a final minute authorized maneuver prevented it.
At a Friday court docket listening to, Superior Courtroom Choose David Goldstein accepted a concession by the Contra Costa District Lawyer admitting that Antioch officers who investigated a sequence of 2021 gang-related shootings had violated the California Racial Justice Act once they despatched racist texts and memes to one another whereas discussing the case. The District Lawyer’s concession eradicated the necessity for protection attorneys to name subpoenaed Antioch officers as witnesses, staving off doubtlessly embarrassing testimony that might have revealed how prevalent racism is throughout the police division.
However the door isn’t totally closed. Protection attorneys for the 4 accused males — 22-year-old Terryonn Pugh, 23-year-old Eric Windom, 24-year-old Keyshawn McGee and 22-year-old Trent Allen — will quickly argue that homicide prices towards them must be diminished, and Goldstein is giving legal professionals a possibility to make their case for why Antioch officers must be subpoenaed once more. The subsequent court docket date has been set for Sept. 8.
“We imagine that the protection should be permitted to current skilled witnesses and different proof to elucidate the huge scope of the racial bias on this case and the impression of such racial bias on the integrity of the investigation and the fees,” protection legal professional Evan Kuluk, who represents Windom.
The event comes barely every week after 13 present and former Antioch and Pittsburg cops had been charged in a set of sweeping federal indictments alleging savage violations of civil rights, dishonest on coaching courses, distributing steroids, interfering with a associated homicide investigation and accepting bribes to make site visitors tickets go away, in what’s one in all California’s largest felony circumstances of police corruption.
The 4 defendants, who’re Black, have been in jail for years, and are set to go to trial quickly. All 4 appeared in court docket Friday.
Protection attorneys for the 4 males subpoenaed a dozen officers, who promptly lawyered up and filed motions to quash the subpoenas. A few of the officers have claimed that they will’t testify because of “industrial accidents” they suffered, although a protection investigator mentioned a few of these exact same officers had been throwing pool events, exercising or working heavy equipment on the very second he arrived to serve them.
Exterior the AF Bray Courthouse, a couple of dozen Sheriff’s Workplace deputies stood outdoors as dozens of protesters held indicators and demanded that Antioch officers go to jail after Friday’s listening to.
Choose Goldstein’s ruling means protection attorneys must subpoena the officers once more to get them on the stand.
Protection legal professional Carmela Caramagno, who represents Pugh, mentioned she was “hopeful” that her facet would be capable to current extra proof, “notably because it pertains to the truth that we had supervisory officers throughout the division, and we don’t have any info that anyone concerned in that text-messaging stream abided by the polices and procedures of the Antioch Police Division.
So I believe the treatment stage is gonna be vital for us to have the ability to present simply how deep and extensive the violations had been, and the violations embrace offering an viewers for that sort of despicable conduct and never talking up towards it,” she mentioned.
Goldstein instructed Deputy District Lawyer Jordan Sanders that he should current sufficient proof on the subsequent listening to to persuade the decide the complete prosecution of Pugh, Windom, McGee and Allen can transfer forward regardless of the DA’s concession. Sanders mentioned in court docket Friday he didn’t wish to file briefs that might reveal his authorized technique to the protection, however Goldstein didn’t give him a lot alternative.
The racist textual content messages included cases the place officers used racist slurs, memes, jokes and quite a few references to individuals they had been investigating, together with a few of the defendants on this case. The communications had been found after the FBI and Contra Costa DA served search warrants and seized a number of officers telephones, which prosecutors allege additionally contained proof of far-ranging criminality.
All the federally charged officers had been arrested in a FBI-led sweep final week. At their preliminary appearances on Aug. 17, a number of had been introduced earlier than a federal Justice of the Peace in handcuffs. However all who appeared had been launched on $100,000 bonds and solely held in custody for a couple of hours. The officers have pleaded not responsible.