Officials say four Fort Lauderdale police officers have lost their jobs following an investigation into a racist video and text messages.
CBS Miami reported 30-year-old James Wells, 31-year-old Jason Holding and 25-year-old Christopher Sousa were fired. A fourth officer, 22-year-old Alex Alvarez, resigned.
“The officers were terminated due to a sustained department misconduct,” Chief Frank Adderley said during a news conference Friday. “The four officers conduct was inexcusable, and there is zero tolerance for this type of behavior within the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.”
Adderly said while the officers didn’t engage in criminal conduct, their behavior was inexcusable.
According to CBS Miami, the video was allegedly made by Alvarez. Styled as a movie trailer, it included “racially insensitive” images including attacks on minorities, a Ku Klux Klan hood and a caricature of President Barack Obama with large gold teeth.
“Its attempt was to damage our agency, and I just hope that the people in the public realize that we’re not going to tolerate it, and that anyone that’s engaged in this behavior, it’s going to be addressed immediately,” Adderly said.
Some of the text messages mentioned killing and injuring black people, CBS Miami reported. According to an investigative report obtained by the station, “The messages criticized their coworkers’ grammar, appearance, work ethic and referred to an entire shift as lazy (expletives)…. The officers also exchanged text messages that included derogatory comments towards Hispanics and homosexuals.”
“I am very disappointed, disgusted and shocked by this incident,” Mayor Jack Seiler said. “The inappropriate, racist behavior exhibited by those involved is unacceptable and it is reprehensible.”
According to Adderley, the officers had worked in predominantly African American neighborhoods. The investigation started in October 2014, when Alvarez’s former fiancée filed a complaint.
“She said she had personally seen it herself and felt it was inappropriate,” Adderley said. He said the officers “felt — in their words — that it was a joke.”
The woman spoke by phone with CBS Miami reporter Carey Codd on Friday and said she stood by her decision to turn over the video and text messages.
“We cant have people like this protecting us,” she said.
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SOURCE: CBS News, The Associated Press