New Woes for San Fran PD: Offensive Texts To, From Ex-Cop
CNN has docs showing racist, homophobic texts to and from James Lai
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2016 12:51 PM CDT
In this May 12, 2015, photo, a San Francisco cop walks past a patrol car parked in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(Newser) – An ex-San Francisco cop described by his attorney as "well loved on his beat" is at the center of a text-messaging scandal over offensive texts sent to and from his personal phone, per documents obtained by CNN. The texts, exchanged in 2014 and 2015 between Jason Lai and friends on the force, as well as people he met through work, were uncovered during an investigation into a rape accusation against Lai by a woman he dated, reports the AP. The texts denigrate African-Americans, Hispanics, Indians, gay cops, residents in one of the city's poorer districts—even President Obama and LeBron James. "F--- that n--," one of Lai's texts says of the NBA star. Another reads, "Indian ppl are disgusting," while multiple texts from Lai, whose attorney IDs him as Chinese, refer to "hock gwais," an apparent misspelling of a Cantonese slur for black people.

The texts add a troublesome layer to what some have said is a broader racism issue within the SFPD, despite Chief Greg Suhr insisting the problems are limited to a few bad apples. A texting scandal also slammed the department last year, with ex-Sgt. Ian Furminger accused of sending similarly offensive texts. The chief says that he's trying to get the department to a "better place" and that he takes "swift and severe" action against bias, while the attorney for Lai, who resigned earlier in April, says the texts are "not reflective of who [Lai] is" and that "there is context to it." But city DA George Gascon, who served as the SFPD chief from 2009 to 2011, tells CNN the department has "a culture that has allowed those people to thrive and survive and even promote." (An AT&T exec was fired for racist texts.)