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East Lake Fire Rescue faces questions over race investigation

Moments before East Lake fire Lt. Bill Figueredo was publicly stripped of his rank for alleged racial slurs, he tried to raise questions about an accuser's credibility by reading aloud two text messages.

The first showed a photo of a black man popping out of a brown box.

"Thanks for the gift," it reads. "But I am sending it back it won't f------ work."

The other text message, showing a naked woman with her hair wrapped in a towel, reads, "Not all towel heads are bad!!"

Fire Chief Tom Jamison condemned the messages last week but told the Tampa Bay Times he likely wouldn't punish the sender — Lt. James Finley — because the messages were sent when Finley was off duty.

"We don't govern our firefighters seven days per week, 365 days per year," said Jamison, who later followed up with an email confirming Finley was off duty.

But attendance records show Finley was on duty Dec. 20, the day he sent one of the texts.

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