Fort Lauderdale

Ex-Fort Lauderdale Officer Fired Over Racist Messages Begins Arbitration Hearing to Get Job Back

Inside the chambers of Fort Lauderdale’s City Hall, a former officer for the city was fighting to get his job back after being fired for his part in sending racist messages.

City officials said four officers created their own subculture of bigotry, sending racially disturbing text messages to each other. They were all fired, and now one of them is trying to get his job back.

Jason Holding doesn't dispute that text messages, in which he used the N-word, came from his phone. He said it doesn't matter, he was a good cop.

"You're gonna actually hear evidence that he was a fine police officer and that he always treated the people he dealt with on the street with respect, dignity, with honor," said Eugene Gibbons, Holding's lawyer.

"Mr. Holding participated in group text communications that illustrated what we believe is reprehensible bigotry toward citizens of this community," said Eugene Pettis, city attorney.

The internal affairs investigation found not just hate-filled text messages, but also illustrations, such as a caricature of a black man, with a hint of slavery and a gun barrel. None of it would've been found if Priscilla Perez had not turned it in.

"This was not my purpose, to get anyone fired. My purpose was for them to know who was dealing with the community, to see the views that individuals had. That was my purpose," she said in court.

Perez was engaged to one of the four officers involved, Alex Alvarez, saved screen shots of the offending messages and turned them in after they broke up. African-Americans, Cubans and gays were the targets.

The NAACP said the only acceptable outcome is for the arbitrator to uphold the firing of Jason Holding.

"There is no place in law enforcement for racism and hatred, and this former officer, we believe, is a proud racist and there is no place for him in any community," said Marsha Ellison, Broward NAACP President.

One of the officer's already lost his arbitration hearing, another resigned from the force. Holding's hearing resumes Tuesday, when he's expected to take the stand in his own defense.

Contact Us