AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The above video is related to a separate investigation into allegations of racism against a different Austin police officer.
An officer with the Austin Police Department has been indefinitely suspended after an investigation into a racist text message exchange, according to KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman.
The Statesman obtained a Nov. 5 disciplinary memo signed by APD Chief Brian Manley. The Statesman reported that, according to the memo, in a text message thread with two unidentified former officers, APD Officer Daniel Castelline suggested that a man of Asian descent who he believed was experiencing homelessness would infect them with COVID-19. The memo reportedly states the text conversation took place between March 12 and 23.
"We're definitely getting corona. And it'll be that bastard," Castelline texted, according to the memo obtained by the Statesman.
The memo reportedly states that in their response to Castelline, one of the other former officers used a racial slur to refer to people of Asian descent and stated they were afraid of getting infected with the coronavirus by them. APD also found comments mocking the Black community in other messages shared by the group a few days later, the memo reportedly states.
The Statesman reported that the memo states that Castelline denied his messages were racist during his internal affairs interview, and he only said it was wrong of him to have called the man a bastard. The memo reportedly also states Castelline blamed one of the other officers in the text exchange for most of the problematic content, saying he was shocked by the messages.
According to the Statesman, the memo also states that Castelline argued the text exchange was not a violation of APD's code of conduct because he was off duty at the time. The memo reportedly states that Manley rejected Castelline's defense and added that Castelline would be indefinitely suspended.
In April, the Austin City Council approved a resolution that condemns violence, hate speech and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically in solidarity with Chinese and Asian Americans.
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