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Judge: Officers in text message case to remain on paid leave

June 23, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nine San Francisco police officers will remain on paid leave while a judge decides whether the department waited too long to discipline them in connection with racist text messages.

The judge’s decision Monday also barred the San Francisco Police Commission from disciplining the officers until their lawsuit over the process is resolved.

Police Chief Greg Suhr is seeking the dismissal of seven officers and the suspension of six others over text messages exchanged over a two-year period and made public in a federal court filing in March.

Nine of the officers are suing the city, arguing the department should have started disciplinary proceedings when first told of the texts during a federal corruption investigation in 2012.

Lawyers for the officers argue that department officials had a year to start disciplinary proceedings after being alerted to the texts.

The department countered that disclosing knowledge of the texts at that time would have jeopardized the federal investigation.

The texts were disclosed in a court filing prosecutors made in the corruption case of former officer Ian Furminger, who was seeking to remain free on bail pending an appeal of his corruption conviction. Prosecutors included the inflammatory texts as part of their opposition to granting Furminger bail, which a judge denied.

The police chief placed the officers linked to the texts on unpaid leave in March. In May, Judge Ernest Goldsmith ordered pay reinstated to the nine officers pending the outcome of the case.

Another hearing is set in September.

Update hourly