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Austin Police Chief fires officer for racist text messages

An Austin, Texas police officer has been indefinitely suspended for racist text messages between him and other officers. According to the Austin Chronicle, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley fired Daniel Castelline for violating Austin Police Department (APD) policies such as disrespecting co-workers, treating the public courteously, and discrediting the department.

The APD internal affairs uncovered the text messages during a separate investigation in the spring of 2020. The text messages were between Castelline and two former officers after they were sent to a complaint call against a man named Phuc Pham. The officers brought up the coronavirus and one of the officers called Asians “slants.”

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 1: Hmm Racist much??

Former Officer 1: No just being trutful

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

Castelline finished the exchange by sending a picture of George Takei captioned with “Oh my.”

When internal affairs pressed Daniel Castelline over the text messages he “repeatedly blam[ed] ‘Former Officer 2’ for most, if not all, of the thread,” according to Manley’s memo. Castelline also claimed to be shocked over the “A Lot of Slants over here” message. But Manley said Castelline never reported the officers and started the thread back up nine days later.

“His lack of acceptance of full responsibility is very troublesome to me,” Manley wrote in his memo. “Calling Mr. Pham a ‘bastard,’ whether it be his face or behind his back, is unacceptable behavior and shows a complete disregard for the impartial attituded 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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