Covers period from Sept. 2019 to April 2022
“text communications between sworn law enforcement members of the Antioch Police Department we believe may have violated the Racial Justice Act.” – Report
DA issues further redacted report Thursday afternoon
WARNING: Contains offensive words and images
By Allen D. Payton
On Monday, April 10, 2023, under order of a Contra Costa Superior Court judge the District Attorney’s Office released the unredacted report of racist and other offensive texts by Antioch Police officers to the defense attorneys in a murder case of four suspects in which officers are involved. Then on Tuesday a redacted version was exclusively shared with reporters for the Mercury News for an article published that day. That same day the DA’s Office PIO Ted Asregadoo said they were redacting the report further before issuing it to other media and on Wednesday he said it wasn’t ready yet and will “have more info on Friday.” But today, Thursday, April 13 the report provided to the Mercury News was leaked by someone and posted on social media.
“The judge said to the DA’s office we had to provide the unredacted version to the defense for discovery,” Asregadoo explained. “But she also ordered redactions had to be made such as officers’ cell phone numbers and other information for disclosure.”
He said the leaked redacted version did come from the DA’s Office but he didn’t know who leaked it. But they will be releasing a further redacted version of the report, later today. That was issued about 4:30 p.m.
The texts included in the report, by CCCDA Senior Inspector Larry J. Wallace, were sent and received by officers from September 2019 to April 2022. The report lists the 14 “Antioch Police Department Officers Sending Communications”: Sergeants Josh Evans and Rick Hoffman, who is also president of the Antioch Police Officers Association, Detective Robert Gerber, and Officers Jonathan Adams, Morteza Amiri, Scott Duggar, Aaron Hughes, Brayton Milner, Calvin Prieto, John Ramirez, Andrea Rodriguez, Eric Rombough, Kyle Smith and Devon Wenger.
The report also claims, “the CCCDAO and the FBI found text communications between sworn law enforcement members of the Antioch Police Department that we believe may have violated the Racial Justice Act. This report documents some of the derogatory, homophobic, and sexually explicit language and photographs shared by members of the Antioch Police Department that demonstrates their racial bias and animus towards African Americans and other people of color in the community. This report does not include every derogatory text message retrieved during our review of the above listed (redacted) cellular telephones. This is an ongoing state and federal criminal investigation which may lead additional disclosures. This report also documents potential dishonesty, perjury, abuse of authority, and the violation of individual’s civil rights.”
The California Racial Justice Act, AB2542, passed in 2020, prohibits “the state from seeking a criminal conviction or sentence on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
The report further reads, “This is a joint investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office (CCCDAO) involving law enforcement officers currently and formerly employed by the Antioch Police Department (APD) and the Pittsburg Police Department (PPD) regarding crimes of moral turpitude and criminal offenses.”
Asked if the 14 officers on the list are now included in the FBI investigation, the DA’s PIO Asregadoo said, “I can’t confirm that because I don’t know the scope of the FBI investigation.”
Other Sergeants and Officers Received Text Messages
The report also shows other officers received one or more of the text messages, including Sergeants Jimmy Wisecarver, Matthew Koch, James Stenger, Trevor Fortner, and Loren Bledsoe, the current Vice President of the APOA, and Officers Daniel Harris, John Cox, Jonathan Adams, Kyle Smith, Jacob Ewart, Ryan McDonald, Joseph Magana, Casey Brogdon, Tom Lenderman, Aaron Hughes, Adrian Gonzalez, Matthew Nutt; Brock Marcotte, Scott Duggar, Timothy Manly Williams, Kelly Inabett, Zechariah Matis, Brock Marcotte, Ryan McDonald, Brittney Crites, Quamaine Murphy, Johnathan Adams, Jiseok Jeong, Adam Duffy, Casey Brogdon, Matthew Summers, Tom Smith, Marcos Torres, Randall Gragg, Samantha Peterson, Brayton Milner and Arturo Becerra, as well as Brentwood Police Officer Lindzie Laughridge.
Examples of Offensive Messages
The texts include words and memes using derogatory terms, such as, “Ni–a”, “Beaner”, “gorillas”, “I’ll bury that ni–er in my fields”; “monkeys”, “f-g–ot” and more.
The report also shows other text messages in which officers claimed they were breaking the law and violating citizens’ rights. For example, the report reads, “On 04/29/2020, at 5:10 p.m., APD Officer Amiri text Brentwood Police Department (BPD) Officer Lindzie Laughridge, ‘Since we don’t have video I sometimes just say people gave me a full confession when they didn’t. gets filed easier.’”
Another message sent threatened harm to Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. The report reads, “On 06/08/2020, at 9:27 a.m., Officer Ramirez text to APD Officers, “I’ll buy someone a prime rib dinner at House of prim rib to 40 that mfr (Thorpe) during the protest today.” This is a reference to the potential use of a .40mm less lethal launcher being utilized on current Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. The following APD Officers received the above listed text message: Sgt.’s Josh Evans, James Wisecarver, Rick Hoffman, Loren Bledsoe, and James Stenger; Detective Robert Gerber; APD Officers John Cox, Jonathan Adams, Kyle Smith, Jacob Ewart, Ryan McDonald, Joseph Magana, Eric Rombough, Daniel Harris, Casey Brogdon, Tom Lenderman, Aaron Hughes, Adrian Gonzalez, Matthew Nutt, Brock Marcotte, Scott Duggar, and Timothy Manly Williams.”
The report also includes text messages about specific cases. It reads, “At 6:28 p.m., APD Sgt. Wisecarver text, ‘Baldwin was the one providing the grades.’ APD Officer Aaron Hughes adds, ‘84% percentile for deadly force.’ APD Officer Inabnett responds, “But we kill more mexicans than anything else. Soo blacks can feel safe.” This is a reference to Malad Baldwin who was assaulted by the APD in 2014, and his mother, Kathryn Wade, later stated this incident led to him suffering from mental illness, and he later died.”
The report reads about another offensive text that “On 06/22/2020, at 9:04 a.m., APD Officer Rombough text a private citizen a photograph depicting a large naked African American male, with his penis exposed, sitting on the neck of George Floyd.”
The report also shows officers conspiring to write false information about a suspect. It reads, “On 07/02/2020, at approximately 9:55 a.m., APD Officer Rodriguez text APD Officer Prieto, ‘I don’t know if I can do the DRE (drug recognition evaluation) cuz he’s knocked out now. APD Officer Prieto responds, ‘No we’ll just say he refused to comply and take the blood. Sh-t aint going anywhere. If anything he’ll get hit for the 2800.4 (California Vehicle Code Section 2800.4 Evading an officer by driving opposite of traffic).’
At approximately 9:56 a.m., APD Officer Rodriguez responds, ‘Okay that’s cool then. What’s the case number again’. APD Officer Prieto responds, ‘5516’.”
The report also shows texts by officers of how they would destroy evidence on their phones if an investigation occurred. It reads, “On 01/13/2021, at 8:22 p.m., APD Officer Morteza Amiri sends information regarding an article where cellular telephones were seized from 100 Oakland Police Officers. At 8:26 p.m., Sgt. Hoffman text, ‘If anyone tries to grab my personal phone I’m gonna smash it Theresa Conde style.’ At 8:27 p.m., APD Officer Cox responded, ‘mines going on the nearest microwave.’ At 8:43 p.m., APD Sgt. Stenger responded, ‘And I never hooked my work phone to the icloud or an email.’”
An exchange racist texts on 03/25/2021, reads, ‘At 5:52 p.m., APD Rombough text, “Sooo many black people (sic).’ At 6:22 p.m., APD Officer Adams responds, ‘Bro. They all look the same.’ APD Officer Rombough laughs at the above comment and responds, ‘Tell me about it’ and ‘I feel like I’m at the zoo.’ At 6:39 p.m., APD Officer Rombough text, ‘I bet it’s chicken.’ APD Officer Adams responds, ‘Could be ribs.’ APD Officer Rombough continues, ‘For sure watermelon and kool aid.’ At 7:14 p.m., APD Officer Rombough to APD Officer Adams, ‘I hate these idiots.’”
DA’s Statement on the Release of Redacted Investigative Report
Thursday afternoon, DA’s Office PIO Ted Asregadoo issued the following statement about the release of the initial redacted report on the officers’ texts.
“The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office is aware an investigative report detailing texts and images sent and received by certain members of the Antioch Police Department has been obtained and distributed beyond the parties of a criminal case.
The court ordered the release of the investigative report on April 7, 2023, to defense attorneys representing clients in a felony criminal case. The court also advised caution in the distribution of the contents of the report. The District Attorney’s Office agrees with the court advisory in the distribution and publication of this document as it contains explicit words and images that are hurtful, offensive, and inflammatory.
The DA’s Office has received multiple media requests for access to the 21-page investigative report concerning racial, homophobic, and derogatory text communications; a report that contained information that overlapped with a charged felony criminal case.
In light of those requests, and the recent distribution of the report, the District Attorney’s Office is releasing a redacted investigative report that balances public interest with the sensitive nature of what is contained in the report.
To view or download the redacted report, click here.”