San Jose Cop Apologizes for Controversial Tweets

A San Jose policeman fired for unleashing an ostensibly anti-Black Lives Matter tirade on Twitter a year-and-a-half ago has issued a public apology.

Officer Phillip White, whose union got him rehired earlier this year, appeared before the City Council on Tuesday for a closed-session review of his reinstatement.

The day before, he sent a letter to city officials expressing remorse for the “lapse in judgment” that led to him to tweet about using his “duty to kill” anyone who threatened his family.

“I’m now asking the community I serve to forgive me and judge on my entire life’s work and contributions to our city’s well-being and not solely on the few minutes where I did not exhibit the best judgment,” he wrote to city leaders. “I made a mistake and for that I am sorry.”

White—a 19-year SJPD veteran—got canned in October but successfully appealed his termination.

Four months later, he won his job back despite community backlash, as well as Police Chief Eddie Garcia and Mayor Sam Liccardo’s public denouncements. In Tuesday’s closed session, however, the council decided to let White keep his job.

White’s social media rants became national news in December 2014 amid protests against grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for killing unarmed black men in Ferguson and New York.

“Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you,” read one of White’s tweets, which he closed with #CopsLivesMatter.

A follow-up tweet read: “By the way if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter, I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun.”

Civil rights groups in the South Bay launched a campaign to kick White off the force, urging the public to demand City Hall #FireWhiteNow. When he got his job back a few months ago, Silicon Valley De-Bug filed a legal challenge against his reinstatement.

In an interview with NBC Bay Area, White said he wrote those tweets in response to direct threats against his family. Still, he acknowledged, he regrets ever sending them. Monday’s letter may be his first public apology, he wrote, but it won’t be his last.

“I am well aware of the long road ahead of me as I move towards rebuilding community relationships that I have worked so hard to develop in my 19 years of service in this city,” he wrote.

In his letter, he said he embarrassed himself with those tweets, which also hurt family, colleagues and the community.

“I will work every single day to earn back any trust I may have broken with the residents I have sworn to protect and serve,” he concluded, “and my colleagues within the San Jose Police Department.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. You just can’t get rid of the lemons even when they perjure, rape, embezzle and kill. You see it’s not the officer they don’t want to get rid of it’s protecting the overall organization. They have, over the years, gathered so much criminal dirt on each other that the system has to protect and rehire them. They, most the time, show up at briefing in uniform and go out in a marked patrol car for 12 hours of meandering and supervision of their off duty businesses of theirs or their wife’s and then get 3-4 days off to engage in their real job. As one example, check the licensed realtors and Security Company’s etc. owned by them. Check the authorized work permits SJPD is in total leaderless disarray.

    • If his family was indeed threatened it would add credibility to the notion that BLM is really “Thug lives matter ” It is sad that BLM gets any traction at all since it’s aim is anti-white, anti-cop.

  2. Hey Jack,
    And you know this because that’s what you did OTJ.

    Over the years I’ve gotten to know quite a few cops. Most were very good people that were very good cops that put their lives and reputation because they wanted to do the right thing and make the world a better safer place.

    Are there bad one’s? Unfortunately yes, the first one I got to know was an Air Force cop I had lunch with everyday.
    Was sentenced to 10 years in Ft Leavenworth for breaking into cars and stealing stuff.
    In spite of that I tend to trust them more than the general public and most any politician.

    For those that go bad there is no hole in hell deep enough!

    • Did this cop go bad? Why because he doesn’t buy into the lies myths and hate perpetrated by BLM?

  3. “…whose union got him rehired…” White was rehired because he was fired for political reasons. While his tweets were dumb, he didn’t commit a crime and he never hurt anyone. Those facts, combined with his long and distinguished record, made it clear from the beginning that his termination would be overturned. The city knew it, and the Chief of Police knew it, but they threw him to the wolves anyway, to appease the very vocal minority of the population that hate the police. Fortunately, due process and fairness won out in the end.

    • Actually, businesses reserve the right to terminate employees if they feel that they are behaving inappropriately, and that includes making threatening comments.

  4. When it comes to spending duty hours “meandering” and attending to outside business interests, Jack Slade speaks from personal knowledge. During his short career as a SJ police officer, one so undistinguished that a deputy chief engaged in a conspiracy with Beverly Hills PD to dupe him into resigning, George Jaeger spent the majority of his time working the tamest beats, dodging dangerous calls, and attending to his theater clients (security) at El Paseo and the Meridian Quad. As a measure of his commitment to these publicly-subsidized, private enterprises, then-officer Jaeger was able to afford a car (a Bentley) that cost two to three times the price of the average cop’s home.

    Was George alone in his greed and malfeasance? Of course not. Men weak in character disgrace every profession, but very few ever demonstrate the chutzpah to add to their fraudulent, disgraceful résumés the role of moral crusader. But given that George’s familiarity with the honorable aspects of the profession pales when compared to his intimate knowledge of the worst inclinations of the self-centered cop on the beat, maybe what it is he is trying to do here is convince the public to see in every cop the dishonor that he can’t escape seeing in himself.

    As for Officer White’s mea culpa, how it differs from appeasing a savage tribe by making an offer to its mythical god, I don’t know, but I understand that that is how political business in now done in this most modern of valleys. With a little luck the incident will be soon forgotten and the previously offended savages can get back to the business of institutionalizing primitive values.

  5. Why do you keep posting this story, it is old news. Good cop made a mistake, got his job back. Let it go. You at SJI no longer do any investigate stores you just cut and paste.

  6. Jack,

    The best thing the city ever did was to refuse to give you a false disability retirement. (they should have done the same to Pete Constant) Yet you continue to hold a hatred against SJPD, let it go and live a better life style instead of all your hatred you have built up. It is not good for your health. Move on an enjoy life.

  7. TOBY1981,

    George Jaeger was awarded a disability pension in the early 80’s, in what was rumored to be the least painful way to avoid an embarrassing scandal (the duplicitous conduct of the deputy chief who was trying to get rid of him). George left with his monthly guarantee and headed for Hollywood, where he again failed spectacularly. In the mid-nineties, GJ tried to convince the PD that he was no longer disabled and therefore owed a job (and a pay bump), but he’d erred in his interpretation of the rules (he was never good with them) and got nowhere.

  8. Again, Officer White’s family is a rainbow coalition, from his Filipina-American wife and his hapa kids, to his African-American father-in-law, to the Hispanics and Vietnamese-Americans who are part of his extended family.
    The man may have typed something that sounds racist, but he not actually a racist in every day life.

  9. If Ofc. White is ever involved in a shooting or other similar incident, his tweet is sure to be admitted as evidence by the defendants. He has biased every arrest/investigation from today on.

    You guys spent the whole time attacking GJ instead of making arguments.

    • So Mr. Kerrigan,
      Officer White is guilty forever, no matter what he does from now on. Do you want to lynch him now, or have he and his family wander the streets as homeless, branded, untouchables, forever?

  10. These “labels” follow “criminals” everywhere.

    “homeless.. untouchables”.

    Are you saying this cop (Mr. White) or all cops have no other skills?

    He pushed the tweet not me.

    It would probably be easier for him if he lateraled to an out of area department now that he’s been reinstated.

    • Oh, I had missed the fact that he had been convicted of free speech. I suppose he should be tried for violating the second amendment as well !

  11. Mr. Karrigan,

    To believe, suggest, or insinuate that this officer’s tweets (so vague as to be meaningless) are justification for his exit from the department (voluntary or involuntary) is to overreact and equate his constitutionally-protected conduct with a serious breech of his official duties as a police officer (e.g. allowing an obvious drunk to drive off). Such overreactions may be attributed to one’s political agenda (scapegoating cops), ignorance (college-indoctrinated Pollyannas), or political cowardice (Mayor Liccardo, Chief Garcia), but whatever is the case, it is not in keeping with the ideals of freedom.

    At a time when our legislators and judges our working to narrow our free speech rights (criminalizing good old-fashioned hatred), the last thing we need is for the public to turn totalitarian and turn on itself.

  12. If you are a public servant with a deadly weapon you better demonstrate decorum. Officer White failed miserably. I agree he shouldn’t have been fired. But let’s say he didn’t help himself and yes a good Defense attorney will most surely try to demonstrate a bias if Mr. White’s involved and there are any racial overtones (right or wrong).

    • Let’s see Cop’s family threatened by a group that advocates violence against cops. I agree with the Officer White. I have a great idea next time you all feel your lives to be in danger just call the local chapter of BLM. Maybe they can help you talk your way out of it.

  13. Mr. Karrigan,

    I’m not dumb enough to deny that anything might be used by a defense attorney in an attempt to impeach a prosecution witness, but having observed an otherwise unimpeachable witness to a neighborhood burglary branded a racist for never having had a negro over to dinner, I’m far beyond assuming that any witness is safe from being accused of bias (or that any jury is bright enough to properly weigh the evidence).

    As for an officer’s off-duty decorum, I agree that circumspection is the wisest strategy, but that does not and should not alter the fact that the officer was exercising his Constitutional right to express himself. Every time we accept an attempt by some elected scoundrel or appointed coward to blur the sharp line between government authority and personal liberty we dangerously invite additional incursions and encourage other tyrants.

    Officer White chose to apologize for his online behavior, but from my chair, the only apologies owed the public are those of Mayor Liccardo and Chief Garcia for putting their own interests above the precious freedoms recorded in the Bill of Rights.

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