Crime scene tape around police headquarters
Crime-scene tape surrounds police headquarters in downtown San Diego in July. Courtesy OnScene.TV

An internal investigation was under way Friday into the creation and circulation among San Diego Police Department employees of a video featuring images of Adolf Hitler and a commentary that “negatively portrays the community and department leadership” and includes a bigoted slur against Mayor Todd Gloria.

The video, which surfaced last weekend, consists of doctored images from a 2004 German-language historical film titled “Downfall,” according to SDPD Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, a spokesman for the city law enforcement agency.

“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 said Friday afternoon. “We are still investigating to determine who was involved in creating it. … If the video was created by a department member, Chief (David) Nisleit will take swift action. This is not who we are as a department. This is not who we are as San Diegans.”

— City News Service