Broward County

Ft. Lauderdale officers terminated over ‘racially biased’ video, texts

Police officers listen to the press conference as Ft. Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley talks to the media. Five months after an internal affairs investigation of four Fort Lauderdale Police officers began, city officials said Friday a late afternoon press conference will be held to discuss its conclusion.
Police officers listen to the press conference as Ft. Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley talks to the media. Five months after an internal affairs investigation of four Fort Lauderdale Police officers began, city officials said Friday a late afternoon press conference will be held to discuss its conclusion. Sun Sentinel

Fort Lauderdale police announced the termination and resignation of officers they said were involved in a “racially biased” video and messages.

Officials announced the termination of Fort Lauderdale officers Chris Sousa, James Wells and Jason Holding. The fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, resigned.

All this after one of the officers allegedly created a video that was “racially biased” and the others exchanged racist text messages among themselves, according to Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley.

He also said there was a Ku Klux Klan hood seen in the video, which also takes shots at President Barack Obama with large gold teeth.

 

“The officers were terminated due to a sustained department misconduct,” said Adderley. “There is zero tolerance for this type of behavior within the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. All of the officers were immediately removed from having any contact with the public.”

“It is inappropriate and it is racist,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.

The officers, according to Adderley, had worked predominantly with people in an African-American neighborhoods in the past.

The investigation started after the ex-fiance of one of the officer’s came forward in October 2014.

“She said she had personally seen it herself and felt it was inappropriate,” said Adderley.

The woman spoke by phone with CBS 4’s 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,” the woman said.

Dozens of pages of text messages were released on Friday and a number of the messages referenced violence towards black people.

According to the investigative report, “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.”

“It is extremely unfortunate that these acts of racism and hate ever took place and that these Fort Lauderdale employees acted in this manner,” said Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman.

The Fraternal Order Of Police released a statement on the issue Friday, saying in part: “The Fraternal Order of Police is a multicultural organization which does not tolerate racism. Our officers take great pride in our commitment to diversity. Our dedicated officers have positive relationships with residents in every community we serve.”

“Everyone is entitled to due process and these officers have the right to a fair review of the facts.”

In response to the incident, Adderley said the city has created a human diversity class that every officer must attend annually.

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