Fort Lauderdale Cops Fired after Racist Video, Texts Emerge | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Broward News

Fort Lauderdale Cops Fired for Racist Texts and Video About Killing Black People

Three Fort Lauderdale Police officers have been fired and another resigned before he could be fired after an internal affairs investigation found that the cops spent time on the taxpayer clock sending one another racist text messages and sharing a racially charged video using racial slurs and images.

The officers' names and ages are Alex Alvarez, 22, Jason Holding, 31,  James Wells, 30, and Christopher Sousa, 25. Their text messages include constant use of the word “nigger,” including at least one mention of “killing niggers.” Also shared among the group was a video – apparently created by Alvarez – of a mock movie trailer that described President Barack Obama with racial slurs as a movie villain who had to be stopped by “savage hunters.” The video goes on to show images of black people getting attacked by dogs and gun-toting white people.

When they were confronted by investigators, three of the officers suggested that the video was a regrettable attempt at humor, and that their use of the word "nigger" was not reflective of their true feelings about African-Americans. 

The investigation began in October 2014 when Police Chief Frank Adderley got an email that informed him he had racist police officers on the force.  The tipster, Priscilla Perez, was the fiancée of Alvarez, and she sent Adderly screenshots of text messages between Alvarez, Holding, Wells, and Sousa. Perez also gave a sworn statement to internal affairs officers that said her would-be husband constantly expressed his racist views toward black people.

Perez and Alvarez are no longer engaged.

During Perez's statement, she said: "I knew it was something wrong that was occurring and actions that he was proceeding to do but I was just afraid for my life that if I would bring it up to you guys, our relationship would end and he would hurt me."

According to the internal affairs file, the two had a relationship marked by jealousy and suspicion. They became engaged after two months of dating. Shortly into the relationship, Perez called a female officer on the force and told her to stop texting Alvarez, leading that officer to later describe Perez as "crazy."

Perez and Alvarez checked each other's phones daily to make sure they were "behaving right, not cheating." That is how she discovered his racist text messages with his fellow officers, she said. But she also knew him to constantly make racist comments. She recalled him saying that on his day off "I'll drink nigger blood." She said he refused to see the remake of Annie, the musical, because it had black actors. 

Alvarez apparently made the "Savage Hunters" video and included names of his fellow officers in the credits, plus pictures of some of them and their patrol cars, mashed up with images of KKK hoods and Hitler. 

After Perez and Alvarez got in a fight last October 13 after she told him she wanted to break up, she called police for a domestic violence situation. She said Alvarez wore his uniform when cops responded. They broke up for good the next day. After that, she reached out to Fort Lauderdale police chief Frank Adderley to tell him he had racist cops on the force. She sent him screenshots and the video, which he turned over to internal affairs. 

Officers who were pictured in the video were subsequently interviewed. Several claimed they hadn't known of the movie and it was probably Alvarez's "poor attempt at humor." One, detective John Graul, said he called Alvarez and told him it wasn't cool. 

But texts revealed that Holding, Wells, and Sousa had also shared racist  "jokes" and used the word "nigger." 

In addition to racist statements about black people, Hispanics and homosexuals were also targeted, as well as coworkers.

Sousa was found to have texted, "Holdings we are coming and drinking all your beer and killing niggers." Sousa later said he did it to "fit in" on the force, and that he regretted using the terms. He said his best friend since third grade is black. 

Wells texted the word "niggers" and "nigger lover" dismissively and also "razzed" Alvarez by calling him a "faggot."  He called some of his coworkers "lazy fucks" and used the term "retarded brown." 

Wells later said that the texts were jokes — relief fro a stressful job, and that they were never intended to become public. He said they did not reflect his true feelings toward black people. 

Holding texted about a "mudshark" — a derogatory reference to a white woman dating a black man.  He said the other cops called him this because he was dating a black Haitian-American woman. He said it was teasing, and "all in good fun." 

Holding once texted to Alvarez and Wells, after they'd been looking for some suspects who'd fled, "I had a wet dream that you two found those niggers in the VW and gave them the death penalty right there on the spot." 

He said that in that instance, he was just frustrated. He said he used the word "nigger" like women sometimes employ the word "bitch" — "Like, 'I'm out with my bitches'" — or, he said, like it's used in hip-hop as a substitute for the word "dude," but that he regretted using it. 

He once texted his buddies that he'd gotten "just a fucking make out session" with a date, then texted "fucking Cubanas" and "fucking Cuban elite." They teased him: "The panty-dropper had its first fail."  Holding also called a female co-worker " a fat rat" but when confronted, said he regretted it and she might have had a thyroid problem. 

All four officers worked in predominantly black neighborhoods. Holding called himself a "hood snob" in one of the texts. He explained to investigators that meant he preferred to work in predominately black neighborhoods because that's where he could help the most. 

"Officers Alvarez, Holding, Wells, and Sousa's conduct is likely to have a negative impact on their interactions with the community and their coworkers as well as negatively impact their credibility in official proceedings," the IA report says.

Alvarez is the only one who wasn't fired because he resigned before he had to make a sworn statement about his conduct and the allegations. 

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler told reporters that the four officers were not representative of the entire police department.

"We have a very diverse police force," Seiler said.

The really stupid and racist video can be seen below, if you care to see what some taxpayer-funded peace officers like to do in their spare time and watch on the public's dime:

You can also read the IA report and see the actual text messages below:

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Downs
Contact: Ray Downs