California Mayor Resigns After Saying No 'Good Person of Color' Has Been Killed by Local Police

A California mayor resigned Wednesday after stating in an email he didn't believe a "good person of color" had ever been killed by the local police.

Mayor James Stewart of Temecula, a city in Riverside County, said he dictated the following email that was sent out Tuesday using voice text because of his dyslexia:

"As you know the City of Temecula does not have its own Police Department. We contract with Riverside County Sheriff's Department. And I don't believe there's ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer. So I'm kind of confuse what you are looking for. Of course racism is not excepted [sic] or tolerated in the City of Temecula. Or any other of the surrounding areas that I know of for sure. I have several good friends who are African-Americans, and they love living here because how safe it is for them and their families."

Stewart told The Press Enterprise in a phone interview Thursday that he "absolutely" did not say the word "good" when dictating the message.

"It was 11 o'clock at night. I looked at it. I thought everything was fine and I sent it. And that was the email that started the firestorm," Stewart said, adding that he did not notice the word "good" because he was tired from working a 12-hour shift at his barber shop.

The mayor offered his apologies Wednesday after the email was posted online, before ultimately stating he would resign in a Facebook post Thursday: "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."

City of Temecula, I hear you, I agree with you, and I am deeply sorry. I owe everyone an apology including our...

Posted by Temecula Stew on Thursday, 4 June 2020

"I understand that even my sincerest apologies cannot remedy this situation. Because actions speak louder than words, I will step down as your Mayor and City Council Member effective immediately. It has been a true honor to serve this great City and its citizens. My love for Temecula and its residents is beyond expression," the mayor said.

Maryann Edwards, the mayor pro tem, stated in the Facebook post that Stewart is "a hard-working and honest man, and the City accepts his 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."

The mayor said he could not recall any deaths involving an African American in Temecula or the surrounding area. But The Press Enterprise reported that 17.8 percent of people who died while in the custody of law enforcement in Riverside County--where Temecula is locate--between the years 2010 and 2018 were black.

The incident comes after more than a week of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A protest was organized in Temecula to ask for the mayor's resignation.

Newsweek reached out to members of the Temecula City Council for comments, but they did not respond back in time for publication.

 Exploring Southern California's Wine Country
TEMECULA, CA - MARCH 26, 2015: A large mural of a train station adorns a wall in Old Town on March 26, 2015 in Temecula, California. Temecula Valley, Southern California's Wine Country. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) George Rose/Getty

Correction 6/8/20, 6:45 a.m. ET: This article was updated to correct the location of Temecula as a city in Riverside County.