The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has launched an internal investigation after the United Against Police Terror San Diego group received a hate email that appears to be from an sheriff's employee's Internet Protocol (IP) address.
The group, which has been an outspoken critic of police brutality, said they were sent an email that contained multiple profanities in the subject line and called Ferguson protesters “animals.”
SDSO Lt. Marco Garmo said the department is investigating what his agency calls a personnel matter.
“It appears an email came from a sheriff’s IP address. We are taking this very seriously, and an internal investigation is underway to determine where, how and who the email came from," Garmo said. "As such, we are unable to provide any additional information at this time, but we are taking this matter very seriously.”
Garmo clarified that he is not confirming the email definitely came from someone within the law enforcement agency, but said he can confirm SDSO understands the allegation being made against it.
United Against Police Terror San Diego member Catherine Mendonça read some of the offensive email aloud at a news conference Tuesday and announced the group is filing a complaint against the sheriff's department.
The email says, in part, “The police aren’t the problem. It’s the criminals out there victimizing the real citizens of the country that are the problem.”
Much of the email is too profane to broadcast on TV or copy in an article.
Mendonça said perhaps the most troubling part of the email was where the writer described Ferguson protesters as “animals.”
“It just perpetuates that ‘lesser of a being’ (stereotype), and it highlights how much racism is still present to this day,” Mendonça said. “There’s still hundreds of years of racism that we still need to overcome.”
United Against Police Terror San Diego filed its complaint Tuesday under penalty of perjury.
NBC 7 verified that the email pictured in the complaint was sent to the group’s Gmail account.
Internal and consultant IT experts told NBC 7 that Ip-address spoofing is a possibility, but it is less likely in this case, given the format of how the email was generated from a WordPress blog comment section.
When pressed on whether the SDSO was considering the possibility that the IP address was impersonated, a spokeswoman said, "Once we were made aware of the complaint, an internal investigation was opened. As such, we cannot comment on the specifics and we also cannot comment on personnel matters.”
The email contains multiple spelling errors, however, and several sources within the SDSO pointed out that their computers check spelling automatically.