California mayor resigns after sparking furor with email about officer-involved shootings

A mayor in Southern California resigned Thursday night after drawing backlash over a comment in an emailed statement.

“I don’t believe there’s ever been a good person of color killed by a police officer,” the email from James Stewart, mayor of Temecula, Riverside County, had said.

Stewart initially blamed the emailed remark, distributed Wednesday, on an error in a speech-to-text translation of his dictated comments, the Valley News of Riverside County reported.

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But on Thursday evening, following backlash in the city of about 115,000 residents, 74 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Stewart opted to step down.

He announced his resignation in a Facebook post.

“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,” Stewart wrote in part. “It has been a true honor to serve this great City and its citizens. My love for Temecula and its residents is beyond expression.”

In a previous post, Stewart wrote that he frequently uses speech-to-text for his emails because of dyslexia. But he asserted that an error occurred in the email that drew backlash.

“Unfortunately I did not take the time to proofread what was recorded,” Stewart wrote on Facebook. “I absolutely did not say that. What I said is and [sic] I don’t believe there has ever been a person of color murdered by police, on context to Temecula or Riverside County. I absolutely did not say ‘good’ I have no idea how that popped up.”

Some respondents on Facebook expressed a willingness to excuse the mayor, but others were less willing to forgive the mayor, the Valley News reported.

“Why are you using voice-to-talk commands for a conversation of this magnitude?” one commenter asked.

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Another called the mayor’s email “abhorrent.”

Reached by the newspaper Thursday, Stewart said he was frustrated that the situation blew up into a controversy.

“It’s really sad that somebody who has no history of racism can be labelled a racist with one misquote,” Stewart said. “So that’s really kind of my whole thing. Everybody’s labelled me as a racist, when I have no history of this.”