San Jose cop who wrote racist texts should face steeper punishment, say Black community leaders

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office is already reviewing whether racial bias played a role in an arrest last year involving Mark McNamara

On Thursday, a coalition of the South Bay’s Black community demanded greater accountability for a former San Jose police officer who sent a slew of racist text messages, as well as the dismissal of all charges in criminal cases involving him.

Officer Mark McNamara resigned last week after it was revealed that he mocked a shooting at a downtown San Jose taqueria and wrote to another officer, “I hate Black people.”

The release has already prompted the District Attorney’s office in Santa Clara County to investigate at least one case involving McNamara that is unrelated to the taqueria shooting.

“We have a challenge in front of us, San Jose,” Rev. Reginald Swilley said at a news conference at the city’s African American Service Agency on Thursday morning. “How are we going to handle bad cops?” Are we going to allow them to infect everyone we hire? Or will we be brave enough to say, ‘This guy can’t be in this department.'”

Swilley, along with leaders of racial justice organizations such as the local NAACP, Silicon Valley DeBug, and the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet, are also calling for the investigation of other police officers who corresponded with McNamara. The officer who received McNamara’s messages has been placed on administrative leave and has not been identified publicly.

Community leaders have stated that McNamara should be decertified under a new state law that aims to hold police officers accountable for misconduct by decertifying them.

San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata said in a statement released just hours after Thursday’s news conference that his department has submitted documents to the state commission in charge of the decertification process.

“I want our community to know that I am committed to an anti-racism culture within our department and am already working with our community partners to update our officer training,” Mata said in a statement. “The updated training will include this incident as a case study, emphasizing the importance of an anti-racist mindset and culture.” The police union president has stated his support for the decertification and the district attorney’s review of McNamara’s cases.

In a statement, Mayor Matt Mahan called McNamara’s messages “vile” and said the “language and conduct does not represent the many officers in our department who work everyday to keep us all safe.”

McNamara, who joined the SJPD in 2017, resigned after learning of the text message investigation, according to Mata. The messages were discovered while an unrelated criminal matter involving McNamara was being investigated by the department’s internal investigations unit.

The text messages immediately brought to light a contentious incident in March 2022 in which McNamara shot and wounded K’aun Green, a Black man, after Green appeared to break up a fight at a taqueria near San Jose State University. Green was shot while disarming someone during the fight while holding a confiscated gun in the air.

The City of San Jose recused itself from representing McNamara in a civil lawsuit filed by Green on Wednesday.

“We believe this is probably just the tip of the iceberg,” Green’s attorney Adanté Pointer said at a press conference on Thursday. “Because (McNamara) was not sending those text messages to himself.”

McNamara mentioned the shooting involving Green in one of his text messages, writing, “N—- wanted to carry a gun in the Wild West… No way, not on my watch.”

In another email, McNamara mocked Green’s attorney, who is also Black.

“The other day, this n— lawyer was like Mr McNamara, and you know we can still find you guilty of using excessive force, right?” I’m thinking, hmmm, yeah, then (what) happens??… Do you think I give a f—- what you n—- think?!???? I’ll shoot you as well!!!!! AHHHHHH!!!!!,” McNamara put pen to paper.

Other past incidents involving McNamara are now being investigated.

The public defender’s office in Santa Clara County announced Thursday that it has asked local prosecutors to dismiss a 2022 case in which McNamara was involved in the arrest of a Black man. According to Deputy Public Defender Karina Alvarez, the individual was arrested for robbery but later charged with vandalism and petty theft.

The district attorney’s office confirmed Alvarez’s request and said prosecutors were reviewing new evidence, but they wouldn’t say who was arrested.

“We have already begun the review process of every single case that this former officer has touched,” Alvarez said, adding that she would seek redress for McNamara cases through the Racial Justice Act. Defendants can appeal their cases if they can demonstrate to a judge that racial bias played a role in their conviction.

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