One of the San Francisco police officers facing dismissal in connection with a racist and homophobic texting scandal has filed a claim, contending the statute of limitations for disciplinary action has expired.
In his Superior Court claim, first reported by the San Francisco Examiner, Officer Rain O. Daugherty seeks a reversal of disciplinary action for at least nine officers involved, a purge of all records related to the scandal and civil penalty awards of $25,000 per officer.
FOR THE RECORD
An earlier version of this post attributed Daugherty's Superior Court claim to the San Francisco Chronicle. It was the San Francisco Examiner.
The claim turns on the state's Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights, which was crafted to protect the rights of those undergoing disciplinary proceedings and contains a one-year statute of limitations after administrators learn of purported wrongdoing.
The "unexcused delay" in pursuing the case, the claim states, requires that the city, police department and police commission "forfeit their right to pursue or impose any punitive action against any of the involved officers, including Daugherty."
The texting scandal has spurred a mass review of cases that ultimately could be dismissed or reversed due to bias or the appearance of bias. A task force formed by Dist. Atty. George Gascon has identified at least 3,000 such cases, and Gascon recently expanded his probe to more broadly investigate potential cultural bias in the department.
The San Francisco Police Department became aware of the texts in December 2012 after they were discovered by federal investigators in connection with a corruption probe of former police Sgt. Ian Furminger.
However, Daugherty's claim states, the police internal affairs department "purposefully and knowingly waited until December 2014 before referring the text messages to the administrative bureau."
The officers' bill of rights contains an exemption to the statute of limitations when an investigation is pending. San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr, who launched an investigation in January, has said he waited until after Furminger was convicted to begin the probe so the texts would no longer be the subject of an active criminal investigation.
Daugherty maintains the exemption does not apply in this situation because none of the officers facing discipline was the subject of that criminal probe.
The texts were made public in a March federal court filing and included slurs against gay people and minorities. In early April, the police department filed charges with the police commission against Daugherty and others whose texts with Furminger raised concerns.
Daugherty and five others are facing proceedings. Three whom Suhr stated he wished to fire resigned, but after learning of the statute of limitations, one sought reinstatement, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Daugherty states in the claim that he is turning to the courts because resorting to "the administrative appeal process through the police commission would be futile."
He expresses remorse but calls the handful of texts uncharacteristic.
"Daugherty is deeply ashamed of what he wrote, such texts being unreflective of his strong commitment to exemplary community policing of all San Francisco's diverse citizens," the claim states, noting that Daugherty has an otherwise "unsullied record."
After the department came into possession of the texts in December 2012, the claim added, Suhr issued a commendation for Daugherty for "exemplary performance."