Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman issued a statement this afternoon saying the text messages allegedly sent between Eureka Police Department officers that were released in a bombshell report from the Sacramento Bee earlier this week "are wholly unbecoming of any professional, or any decent human being for that matter."
"Public trust is hard to earn and easy to lose," Seaman said in the recorded statement. "People are angry and they should be. I'm angry. There is no excuse for the demeaning, disrespectful content reported to have been included in those messages."
Seaman reported that EPD the city has hired an "unbiased third party from outside the area" to conduct a formal internal investigation into the text messages, but said the city won't identify the investigator until their report is complete. The mayor said she expects the investigation to deliver answers quickly.
Earlier this week, EPD Chief Steve Watson said he's placed two officers on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Relying on a text message thread between six officers provided to the newspaper by an anonymous source, the Bee named two officers — Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez and Mark Meftah — as participating in the threads, which made fun of homeless residents, demeaning comments about women's bodies, threats of violence and disparaging references to a female colleague, while also referring to a former county health officer as a "bitch."
According to the Bee's report, when officers discussed a woman "who was known to shoplift and who also had a history of mental illness" and was walking through town, Reyna-Sanchez responded, "Get pics of her rack!!"
"Saggy ol udders," Meftah allegedly replied.
In another thread, Reyna-Sanchez allegedly updates his fellow officers on a police standoff with John Karl Sieger that ended with him being fatally shot after pointing a gun at officers, telling them Sieger "is at st joes with several extra holes in him!!" The Bee also reported other messages in which the officers allegedly joke about beating up protesters and "face shooting" a suspect released from jail after allegedly stealing a tactical vest of Reyna-Sanchez's.
Watson penned a letter to the community earlier this week denouncing the statements in the alleged texts, while the Eureka Police Officers Association issued a statement saying it "does not and will not condone violent, racist, sexist, or indifferent attitudes towards the community members we are sworn to protect and serve, or each other.