San Jose Police Department fire officer over ‘disgusting’ racial text messages, chief says

A San Jose, California, police officer was fired after an investigation revealed he had sent “disgusting text messages that demonstrated racial bias,” San Jose Chief of Police Anthony Mata said in a release Friday.

The former officer, Mark McNamara, allegedly sent a number of racist text messages. The department’s internal affairs investigators discovered the messages during an unrelated criminal investigation into the officer, according to the release.

McNamara had been involved in an officer-related shooting at La Victoria Taqueria in downtown San Jose on March 27, 2022, according to the release. He was placed on routine administrative leave after the shooting, according to a police briefing.

Text messages shared by the department, with the names and phone numbers of the people involved partially redacted, were sent the day after the shooting and in June and July 2023.

Mata said that when the text messages were discovered, a separate investigation into McNamara was launched “immediately.”

“I hate black people,” one of the texts McNamara sent said, according to documents released by police. In another message, McNamara identifies himself as white.

He also used variations of the N-word multiple times, according to the set of messages police released.

A current employee of the police force who was found to be on the receiving end of some of McNamara’s messages “engaged in other concerning dialogue with the former officer,” Mata said in the release. That unnamed employee has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

“There is zero tolerance for even a single expression of racial bias at the San Jose Police Department,” Mata said in the statement, adding that “the messages were found due to the expansion of our Internal Affairs Unit’s efforts to thoroughly investigate all questionable conduct and is why we have made investments in a new early warning system.”

Mata said this is the “promised accountability” resulting from his department being “proactive and transparent” in all investigations.

“If any employee’s racial bias rears its ugly head, rest assured that I will take immediate action to ensure they are not part of this organization,” Mata said. “I am extremely proud of the 99.9% of officers whose achievements and dedication to this community are unmatched and I will not let the actions of a few officers cloud the extraordinary work being done in our city every day.”

“There is nothing more sickening than a person in power abusing their position,” Mayor Matt Mahan said in the statement. “I will sleep better tonight knowing that this individual is no longer carrying a badge and gun.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if McNamara was represented by counsel. Contact information for McNamara could not immediately be found on a public database.

In a statement Saturday, San Jose Police Officers’ Association president Steve Slack called the alleged behavior “beyond unacceptable” and said “we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

“This incident represents the actions of an individual. It is not a reflection of those of us who serve with honor and who treat every member of our community with the respect and dignity they deserve,” the statement said. “If these allegations are true, then this individual must face the sternest consequences possible.”

McNamara is no longer represented by the association.

“He quit the force and as such he forfeits his membership in the union,” association spokesperson Tom Saggau said.

Rebecca Cohen

Rebecca Cohen is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

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