Hitler film clip circulated among San Diego police leads to internal investigation


The San Diego Police Department is investigating a video depicting Adolf Hitler that circulated among some department members.

The video “negatively portrays the community and department leadership” and includes a homophobic comment about the city’s new mayor, Todd Gloria, a police spokesman confirmed.

Gloria, who took office Dec. 10, is the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Police spokesman Lt. Shawn Takeuchi called the video “extremely disturbing and offensive.”

“The department will not tolerate hateful speech of any kind,” he said. “If the video was created by a department member, Chief [David] Nisleit will take swift action. This is not who we are as a department. This is not who we are as San Diegans.”


Takeuchi said the video is a clip from the 2004 film “Downfall.” The historical drama depicts Hitler in the final days of World War II.

“Subtitles were added to the video, which negatively portrays the community and department leadership,” Takeuchi said. “The video also makes a homophobic comment regarding the mayor.”

Parodies of the film are popular online. In particular, subtitles are often added to a scene in which a furious Hitler learns that his generals failed to carry out an attack and that Germany’s defeat is imminent. In many of the spoofs, Hitler rages about topical events. Recent parody clips, for example, portray President Trump as Hitler reacting to news that he lost the 2020 election.

Takeuchi said the video under investigation is about Nisleit’s decision to launch an internal investigation after officers were spotted around a table at a café in La Jolla last week in violation of orders that at the time prohibited on-site dining.

“Clearly, whoever created the video was angry” about the chief’s decision, Takeuchi said.

The clip surfaced last weekend, and the department launched an internal investigation at that time, Takeuchi said.

“As this video began to circulate, numerous department members who received it [via text message] notified their supervisors,” he said.


He said the department was unsure if an officer created the clip. “We are still investigating to determine who was involved in creating this video,” he said.

It was unclear how many department members saw the clip.

In an email sent to its members, the San Diego Police Officers Assn. advised officers to contact lawyers for the union if they were contacted by Internal Affairs and had reason to believe they were subject to “administrative investigation and/or disciplinary action regarding your involvement in the investigation surrounding the video.”

The union’s president declined to comment.

Hernandez writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.