HomeVietnamese AmericanAustin Police Officer Fired Over Anti-Asian Texts

Austin Police Officer Fired Over Anti-Asian Texts

Photo by Seth Granville via Flickr Creative Commons

An Austin Police Department officer has been fired after sending racist text messages to fellow officers in Texas, The Austin Chronicle reports.

On November 5, the Austin Police Department announced that Austin Police Chief Brian Manley had indefinitely suspended Officer Daniel Castelline. The department published a full explanation of Officer Castelline’s suspension, as well as the racist text messages, on their website.

APD’s Internal Affairs began investigating Officer Castelline in spring of 2020. The investigation began after a series of texts between Castelline and two former officers came to light. The officers were texting about a man who they were sent to address complaints about named Phuoc Pham.

This is the excerpt of the texts included in the report:

Officer Castelline: We’re definitely getting corona. And it’ll be that bastard phuc pham.

Former Officer 1: Lol Yup! he’s the one who actually started it

Former Officer 2: Hmm Racist much??

Former Officer 1: No just being truthful

Former Officer 2: Kind of afraid of catching the corona. A Lot of Slants over here

According to The Austin Chronicle, Castelline then sent a meme of Japanese American actor George Takei with his hands on his face and the text caption “Oh my.”

Former Officer 2 told Castelline that the meme wasn’t funny. He said that Takei had “suffered enough through institutionalized racism” and “fought hard to rise above it,” only for “the white devil Castelline to put him back in chains.”

I’m calling IA,” Former Officer 2 wrote after reprimanding Castelline.

When Castelline was interviewed by IA he placed the blame mostly on Former Officer 2 who had referred to Asian Americans as “slants.” He also claimed that nothing he said was particularly offensive and accused Former Officer 2 of overreacting.

Police Chief Manley was troubled by Castelline’s reponse.

“His lack of acceptance of full responsibility is very troublesome to me,” Manley wrote in the report. “Calling Mr. Pham a ‘bastard,’ whether it be to his face or behind his back, is unacceptable behavior and shows a complete disregard for the impartial attitude and courtesy that APD officers are required and expected to show to all persons. Moreover, his comments and inferences can also be seen as insolent and abusive towards Detective co-workers and co-workers of Asian and African American [descent].”

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