Another Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed against Antioch and Police Chiefs; Dozens of Officers Targeted in Filings

By  The Vanguard Staff

ANTIOICH, CA – A third lawsuit against the city of Antioch and three Antioch police chiefs was filed this week by the law firm of Burris, Nisenbaum, Curry & Lacy, LLP, who already represent 13 plaintiffs in two other related Federal section 1983 Civil Rights lawsuits against dozens of officers.

The firm confirmed in a statement the lawsuit is on behalf of seven plaintiffs, “who suffered injuries ranging from being shot by Antioch Police, being racially profiled, humiliated, and falsely arrested, to being beaten, tased, and bitten by a police dog.”

The pleading, said the firm, brings the number of plaintiffs in the three cases to 20. And, at least 45 Antioch police officers have been “implicated in the scandalous, department-wide demonstration of racist policing, routine use of excessive force and fabrication of evidence.” 

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California filing will join two earlier lawsuits filed and are before Federal Judge Vince Chhabria. See:

The new lawsuit, in addition to damages, attempts to hold the City of Antioch and its Chiefs of Police responsible for the harm caused to the Plaintiffs by the Police Department’s “Unconstitutional and Unconscionable race-based policing, racial profiling, and criminal conduct by Antioch police officers.”

The legal action also asks the court for injunctive relief to “change the policies and procedures of the Antioch Police Department to bring the Department into Constitutional policing and best practices.”

“Many Antioch police officers engaged in a pattern of despicable race, misogynists and excessive force policing that debased the safety and sensibility of the people of Antioch,” said Civil Rights Attorney John Burris.

Burris added, “This and our other lawsuits intend to eradicate the rot that exists within the department that allowed officers to feel comfortable that their open expression of racial, misogynist, and homophobic bigotry, along with the disregard of constitutional rights, would be unchecked by supervisors and or commanders.”

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Nisenbaum said, “The number of victims, now 20 with this new lawsuit, and number of officers involved shows the need for policy and practice changes. The text messages tell the truth about the Antioch Police Department.  

“The fact of racial profiling by police in this day and age in the Bay Area will not be tolerated. It is unacceptable. The Antioch Police Department has only one path to reform, which we will do.”

The plaintiffs noted a March, 2023, publishing by the District Attorney of Contra Costa County that detailed the “crimes of moral turpitude and criminal offenses committed by sworn law enforcement officers within the City of Antioch Police Department.”

For at least a three-year period, the lawsuit claims, “From 2019-2022, Antioch police officers and sergeants exchanged hundreds of salacious text messages riddled with vile and offensive language about community members. In those text threads, officers bragged about using excessive force and beating arrest subjects so severely that the officers themselves hurt their hands and feet.”

The DA report added “derogatory, homophobic, and sexually explicit language and photographs shared by members of the Antioch Police Department that demonstrates their racial bias and animus towards African Americans and other people of color in the community.” 

The suit alleges over a period of at least four years, the Antioch Police Department officers referred to citizens as “niggers,” “niggas,” “monkeys,” “gorillas,” “faggots,” “water buffalos,” “cunts,” “pussies,” “fat bitches.” 

And officers “celebrated the violent targeting of Black community members (‘we just ran down a monkey’; ‘I’m only stopping them cuz they black (sic)’; ‘I’ll bury that nigger in my fields’; ‘I can’t wait to forty all of them’).”

The firm said “officers admitted to serious acts of lying and falsification (‘we’ll just say he refused to comply’; ‘I sometimes just say people gave me a full confession when they didn’t. gets filed easier (sic)’). Appallingly, at least 45 officers participated in or were aware of this misconduct and did nothing.”

The law firm added in its pleading that “widespread abuse by large numbers of the Antioch Police Department population, detailed in the investigative report, highlights a pattern and practice of discriminatory law enforcement based on race and gender. Officers engaged in vile derogatory speech, physical mistreatment of community members, and violations of individual civil rights.

“The abuses in question were the product of a culture of intolerance within the City of Antioch Police Department. This culture is rooted in the deliberate indifference of high ranking City officials, who have routinely acquiesced in the misconduct and otherwise failed to take necessary measures to curtail and prevent it. 

“Despite the repeated and frequent nature of the misconduct and civil rights violations committed by its officers, high ranking City of Antioch officials failed to take any or appropriate remedial action. As a result, officers engaged in repeated and serious acts of misconduct and civil rights violations against citizens living, visiting, and/or traveling in Antioch.”

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