SF may have to pay legal fees of cops who sent racist text messages

Taxpayers may be on the hook for the legal fees of 10 San Francisco police officers involved in the recent racist text message scandal.

A judge ruled in December The City could not punish those police officers for the sending racist and bigoted texts.

The lawyer representing Officer Rain daugherty, the only named plaintiff in a civil suit against The City, told the San Francisco Examiner she plans to file a motion claiming The City should pay for the legal fees in the case.

Alison Berry Wilkinson, who represents the 10 officers, and is paid by the Police Officers Association, said she plans to file a motion claiming The City should pay the legal fees of the officers since the judge ruled in their favor.

At this point, she has yet to calculate the cost of her legal work, but legal fees can be in the hundreds of thousands for such cases.

City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said his office can’t speculate on a hypothetical, but said he may comment after the motion is filed.

The 10 officers, along with a handful of others, were caught sending text messages in 2012 but the department did not initiate discipline hearings until more than three years later, two years past the statute of limitation. The department has said their reasoning was the ongoing corruption case against several officers, including Ian Furminger and Edmund Robles. The department said they didn’t want to interfere with that federal case, so waited until the case was over before proceeding with their discipline case.

The matter went public early last year because of a court filing in the Furminger and Robles case. It was only after that revelation that the department moved to fire the officers involved.

That prompted some of the officers to sue The City, arguing the department waited to long before charging them. Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled in their favor in December. The City has since appealed that ruling.

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