A mayor in Southern California has resigned after sending an email that said he didn’t believe “there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer” in the local area.
The former Temecula mayor, James “Stew” Stewart, announced his resignation Thursday night, a day after saying the word “good” was a typo mistakenly added by voice-to-text transcription.
“So you all are going to hear about this,” he wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday after the email started circulating on social media.
“I sent a voice text last night to a person concerned about our police officers and their sensitivity training. I am very well known for my dyslexia so I voice text everything,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately I did not take the time to proofread what was recorded. I absolutely did not say that. What I said is and I don’t believe there has ever been a person of color murdered by police, on context to Temecula or Riverside County. I absolutely did not say ‘good.’ I have no idea how that popped up,” he said.
But his explanation was still problematic to many, with some commenting that as recently as 2016, an 18-year-old black resident of Temecula named Matthew Tucker was shot to death by Riverside County Sheriffs deputies.
The deputies were responding to a 911 call saying the teen was depressed and suicidal. The fatal shot was to Tucker’s back as he brandished a knife. A jury ultimately found the officers’ conduct “objectively reasonable.”
“The officers utterly and completely failed to talk with each other, call for back-up, call for a crisis intervention team, clear the scene, or develop a tactical plan. They failed at every turn,” Tucker’s parents said in a legal filing after the verdict.
“I feel as though it is your duty as the mayor of Temecula to be informed about instances where this has happened,” area resident Aubrey Farmer wrote, linking to a French Valley Press article about Tucker’s death.
“Please listen to your constituents concerns and own up to your mistakes! Thank you!” she wrote.
In his resignation note Thursday night, Stewart said he was “deeply sorry.”
“I owe everyone an apology including our citizens of all backgrounds and ethnicities, City staff, and my respected colleagues on the City Council,” he wrote.
“You have every right to be hurt and offended. My typos and off-the-cuff response to an email on a serious topic added pain at a time where our community, and our country, is suffering. I may not be the best writer and I sometimes misspeak, but I am not racist. I deeply regret this mistake and I own it, entirely. I am truly sorry,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Maryann Edwards accepted the resignation.
“Temecula is poised to close this chapter and continue our long-term commitment to preventing racial injustice in any form. On this day of Mr. George Floyd’s memorial service, and on behalf of my council colleagues, the City of Temecula offers our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family,” she said.