After the San Jose Police Department made public Friday that a former officer had sent racist text messages, a 22-year-old man shot by that officer spoke out Sunday.
“Honestly, I’m still processing,” K’aun Green said, sitting alongside his attorneys in Oakland.
An Internals Affairs investigator discovered the texts sent by Mark McNamara, who had been on the force for six years, during an unrelated investigation. Those texts were sent to one current and one former officer, according to SJPD.
“Those were disgusting text messages, vile text messages,” said civil rights attorney Adante Pointer.
The texts included slurs and the words, “I hate black people.”
“The racist tropes, the historical perspective that he brought to policing, that he expressed on this day — they don’t match this young man,” said Pointer. “They never did. He is a hero.”
Pointer also spoke on the day that McNamara shot and wounded Green. He said Green, who was a college athlete, disarmed a gunman during a brawl at a downtown San Jose taqueria in March 2022.
Police say officers weren’t aware of that when they arrived and saw Green with the gun in his hand. According to the SJPD, Green didn’t drop the gun when officers told him to. That’s when McNamara shot him several times.
Green’s family is now suing the city.
Some of those text messages show McNamara using slurs apparently while discussing the lawsuit, with some directed at Green’s legal team. One text contained an apparent threat toward a lawyer questioning McNamara as part of the lawsuit.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” said Pointer. “It’s out of line and, frankly, I take it as a criminal threat.”
Pointer argued the messages showed racial bias played a role in the shooting.
He also said they showed a larger problem by pointing to the officers who received the texts: “Didn’t push back on what he said. Which lets us know that the San Jose Police Department has a culture, has an environment, has a brotherhood and sisterhood that embraces such racial animus. To where racism of those carrying badges and guns not only survives in the San Jose Police Department, but thrives.”
Since the department made the texts public, San Jose’s mayor and police chief have both condemned them. Another officer, who received the texts, has also been placed on administrative leave pending another investigation.
Green’s attorneys want the shooting revisited and believe McNamara should be prosecuted.
After Green and his attorneys spoke Sunday, Steve Slack — the president of the San Jose Police Officers Association — shared a statement with NBC Bay Area.
In the statement, Slack wrote: “It’s unfortunately that in the pursuit of financial gain, Mr. Green’s attorney has no difficulty pointing at the racist thoughts and behavior of one individual and then painting every officer with the same brush. It is a testament to the culture of the SJPD that our Internal Affairs investigators found these texts, reported these texts to the Chief of Police and the Chief took immediate action to rid the cancer of Mr. McNamara from our department. Our culture also reinforced our union’s decision to not defend these horrid texts or Mr. McNamara but to condemn both in the strongest possible terms.”
Source: NBC Bay Area