On December 9, 2018, police fatally shot 23-year-old Christopher Deandre Mitchell in Torrance, California. Mitchell’s family has been demanding justice and now racist text messages have surfaced.
Mitchell was killed at Ralph's grocery store after being accused of driving a stolen car. Officers claimed they saw him reach for a gun and then shot him while he was sitting in the vehicle. The District Attorney's Office stated an airsoft rifle was found in the car. Prosecutors did not charge the officers but the California attorney general's office reopened the case late last year.
The Los Angeles Times reports during 2018 protests over the shooting outside of police headquarters, one officer sent a text message that read: “Was going to tell you all those [N-word] family members are all pissed off in front of the station.”
Another message stated: “Gun cleaning Party at my house when they release my name??"
An officer wrote in response: "Yes absolutely let's all just post in your yard with lawn chairs in a [firing] squad."
According to court records, one of the officers called protesters "savages.”
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office submitted 390 messages from 2018 to 2020 that contained "anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic or transphobic remarks." The messages reportedly were not just about Mitchell, but other victims of police violence in Torrance, California. The messages allegedly included comments about lynching suspects and killing Black children. Many of the messages were redacted and The Los Angeles Times reports that the officers have been trying to suppress evidence of the text messages.
The Torrance police department and an attorney for the police union declined to comment to The Los Angeles Times.
There have been several lawsuits filed against the Torrance police department over the years. Mitchell's family was awarded $7.8 million in a settlement earlier this year. Back in December of 2021, Sherlyn Haynes, Mitchell’s mother, said in a statement, “I miss my son so much. It just hurts me. I live daily in pain of missing my only child. I wish he was here. They [two Torrance police officers] did not have to murder my son. In 15 seconds, he was gone… He had a big heart. He always loved to make people laugh. He loved his family. He loved riding on skateboards, loved telling jokes and loved being around people.”