An internal investigation was underway Friday into the creation and distribution of an edited video featuring images of Adolf Hitler showing subtitles that "negatively" portrays the community and department leadership, and also includes a bigoted slur against Mayor Todd Gloria.
The video, which surfaced last weekend, is an often-parodied scene from a 2004 German-language historical film titled "Downfall," according to SDPD Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, a spokesman for the department. The edited version of the scene features altered English subtitles mimicking a fictional conversation between Adolf Hitler and his subordinates.
"This video is extremely disturbing and offensive,'' Takeuchi said. "The department will not tolerate hateful speech of any kind."
Among the antagonistic statements superimposed over clips of the movie in the form of subtitles is a "homophobic comment" about Gloria, the city's first openly gay mayor, the lieutenant said.
The motivation for the critical video appears to have been resentment over potential disciplinary actions faced by some members of the SDPD.
"This video was created after the department launched an internal investigation into the matter of our officers eating inside a restaurant during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders," Takeuchi said. "Clearly, whoever created the video was angry that the department took swift action to investigate and is still investigating that incident.''
Upon learning of the existence of the video on Saturday from SDPD employees, the department's leadership immediately launched an in-house probe, according to Takeuchi.
"At this time, we do not know if this video was made by someone in the department or by someone who does not work at SDPD," the lieutenant included in a written statement to NBC 7 Friday afternoon. "We are still investigating to determine who was involved in creating it. ... If the video was created by a department member, Chief Nisleit will take swift action. This is not who we are as a department. This is not who we are as San Diegans."
Jack Schaeffer, the president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, the union that supports the department members told NBC 7 that he was not going to comment on the ongoing investigation.
A spokesperson for Mayor Gloria confirmed Gloria had been "made aware of the offensive video that has circulated within the San Diego Police Department and have directed the Police Chief to continue his internal investigation."
Monday evening, newly elected San Diego City Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera took to twitter stating, "I am horrified that any member of SDPD would see Nazis and Hitler as an appropriate representation of the Department and its leadership," in calling for is swift and serious accountability for those responsible for the video and its circulation.
As of Monday evening, the department's internal investigation was still ongoing.