Fallout From SFPD Racist Texts: Officer Resigns Amid Scandal

https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/4516038309/

(Thomas Hawk/flikr)

By Alex Emslie
KQED

One of four San Francisco police officers, who was reassigned while the department’s internal affairs division investigates their involvement in racist and homophobic text messages, has resigned.

Michael Robison, who served as an SFPD officer for 23 years, resigned Wednesday, his attorney Anthony Brass confirmed today.

“He resigned in order to spare himself the stress of living knowing that he was going to be terminated,” Brass said. “The chief’s comments that the four officers would be terminated following the investigation let him know what the outcome of this would be, really no matter what.”

Police Chief Greg Suhr had said he would seek to terminate any officers found by the investigation to be biased. Suhr did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Text messages recovered from former SFPD Sgt. Ian Furminger’s cell phone were revealed in a federal court filing last week opposing Furminger’s request for bail while he appeals his conviction on federal fraud and conspiracy charges.

The messages initially implicated officers Michael Celis, Rain Daugherty and Noel Schwab, in addition to Robison. Furminger’s motion was denied, and he’s scheduled to surrender in early April for a prison sentence of three years and five months.

An SFPD spokesman said Thursday that 10 additional officers caught up in the probe are no longer under investigation. They had traded messages with Furminger, but those were “deemed not inappropriate,” the spokesman said.

Robison was openly gay and was quoted in The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian news magazine in a 1998 article about challenges faced by gay police officers:

“The `good ol’ boys’ system is on its way out, and the newer generation that’s replaced them sees things from a more open-minded standpoint. We have a common saying among people in the department: `When you’re at work you’re all wearing blue.’ I really hand it to the people who came out back then because they really-paved-the way for us.”

“Mike Robison is not a racist,” Brass said. “He works with people of varied ethnicity every day. He understands bigotry from the other side because as an openly gay officer, he exposes himself to a great deal of bigotry and well understands the hurt of that, and would never want to impose that on other people. The problem is that there really is no explanation that’s going to satisfy his chief, the community or anyone regarding these texts. The texts are just literally — they speak for themselves — and there’s no changing that.”

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