Two police officers in Eureka, California have been placed on leave after they made demeaning and sexist comments in a group chat that included a half-dozen other officers.
The Sacramento Bee first reported on the group chat which included “obscene comments about people experiencing homelessness and mental illness” and “degrading comments about women’s breasts.” Sergeant Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez, one of the men placed on leave, reportedly urged colleagues to “face shoot” a suspect, referred to a coffee order as “black and bitter...like my fantasy wife!!!” and said, of a female officer, “they’re putting her on days so that all u veteran officers can [unfuck] her…” among other comments.
The other officer placed on leave, Mark Meftah, said in response to an order that he check on a resident who was believed to have covid-19 that he would “knock as lightly as humanly possible on the door, give him an eighth of a second to answer, and then leave.” Reyna-Sanchez later referred to the patient as an “outbreak money.” Meftah also texted that he would “beat those [fucking] hippies” down in reference to protestors, and both he and Reyna-Sanchez texted about a woman who was known to shoplift, writing “Get pics of her rack!!” and “Saggy ol udders.”
Hours after the Sacramento Bee published their report on Wednesday, the Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson announced that Reyna-Sanchez and Meftah would go on leave immediately, while an outside investigator conducts a review. “While we leave room for the investigation to reveal more information, we also fully denounce the content of the communications that have been reported,” Watson wrote in a statement.
The text messages are another addition to the mounting evidence of gross police misconduct in stations across the country. They especially reflect how Eureka police officers feel about the city’s homeless population, a dehumanizing outlook not unique to Eureka. Just today police officers in Minneapolis used violent force on a group of people living in tents that the officers were attempting to clear. Last year the NYPD was removed from homeless outreach in New York City, where officers have used excessive force against the city’s unhoused population, in addition to overpolicing subway stations.