A Police Officer Accused A Prosecutor Of Covering Up A “Racist” Comment About A Black Murder Suspect Who Dated A White Woman

"The elected District Attorney, Todd Spitzer, made an unsolicited, derogatory, and racist comment about Black men/persons."

A police lieutenant accused the Orange County, California, district attorney of trying to cover up a “derogatory and racist” comment made during a meeting about sentencing a suspect, a move that police fear could impact the prosecution of a high-profile murder case.

The comment was made by District Attorney Todd Spitzer who, according to memos obtained by BuzzFeed News, was meeting with eight other prosecutors to discuss the possibility of seeking the death penalty in the case when he said that “he knows many black people who get themselves out of their bad circumstances and bad situations by only dating ‘white women.'” The county’s top prosecutor then added he’d known a Black man in college who “for sure” had done that.

Spitzer on Wednesday told BuzzFeed News that it had been appropriate for him to discuss race, which he said had first been brought up in the case by the defense attorneys.

The conversation in which Black men’s dating habits came up involved Jamon Rayon Buggs, a 44-year-old personal trainer accused of killing a man and a woman in Newport Beach, shooting both in the head.

But after learning the district attorney’s office had made the decision to seek out life without parole without notifying the victims’ families, and that the office had taken the unusual step of reassigning it to another prosecutor outside the homicide division, Lt. Court Depweg began to make inquiries about what motivated the changes.

The letter shows that the Newport Beach Police officer seemed concerned about whether Spitzer’s comment was disclosed to the court. Under criminal proceedings, prosecutors are required to disclose all information on a case, as well as possibly exculpatory evidence.

“I have received consistent information that during the Special Circumstances Meeting on or about October 1, 2021, regarding whether to seek the death penalty in the matter of Jamon Buggs, the elected District Attorney, Todd Spitzer, made an unsolicited, derogatory, and racist comment about Black men/persons,” Depweg wrote.

According to the letter, Depweg made several inquiries to the district attorney’s office to understand what happened, on Jan. 27, Jan. 28, and Jan. 31. Then on Feb. 2, he reached out to the office to say he’d learned about Spitzer making an “inappropriate” comment about Buggs. Depweg’s letter to the judge was dated Feb. 3. The following week, the prosecutor who initially flagged concerns about Spitzer’s comments in a memo was fired.