A California judge ruled today that a group of San Fransisco cops who exchanged racist and homophobic text messages about “monkeys,” “niggers,” “half breeds,” and other slurs will not face punishment, citing the statute of limitations.

A cache of texts between the officers was uncovered as part of a 2014 federal corruption investigation into SFPD Sgt. Ian Furminger, who was found guilty of taking money from drug dealers for his own personal use. The messages, some of which are collected here, show Furminger and other cops enthusing about burning crosses, disparaging the intelligence of black officers, and remarking that “niggers should be spayed.”

Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that the officers should not be disciplined because the police department let a statute of limitations lapse before acting against them. Goldsmith indicated, somewhat counterintuitively to the San Fransisco Chronicle, that the ruling is intended on some level to shame the department for not acting more quickly. “It is not in the public interest to let police misconduct charges languish,” he said. “The public has a right to have accusations against police officers be promptly adjudicated.”

The city’s attorney argued in court that the officers were not disciplined more quickly because doing so would have sabotaged the corruption case against Furminger. In 2004, Furminger and one other officer implicated in the texts allegedly slammed a man’s head into a urine-covered wall while making “anti-gay remarks,” and were not punished because of the same limitation rule, the Chronicle reports.

SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, pictured above, attempted to fire eight of the officers and discipline the remaining six in April 2015, before one of the accused brought the matter to the state’s Superior Court. City officials plan to appeal the decision.

Image via AP. Contact the author at andy@gawker.com.