SFPD Stuck in a Case of "Police, Lies and Videotape"

Monday, Mar 7, 2011  |  Updated 4:45 PM PDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
SFPD Stuck in a Case of "Police, Lies and Videotape"

Several cops on leave

advertisement

A total of five drug cases involving eight San Francisco police  officers have been dismissed due to allegations of police misconduct, some of  which was apparently caught on surveillance video, authorities said Monday.
   
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi this afternoon released  a fourth video of a case that allegedly shows discrepancies between the  footage and what was written on police reports and said in court testimony by  officers.

"It's a case of police, lies and videotape," Adachi said.

That fourth case was dismissed by the district attorney's office  on Dec. 22. A fifth case involving officers from the prior incidents was  dismissed today by prosecutors, Adachi said.

Video from two initial cases was released to the media by Adachi  last Wednesday and appeared to show police misconduct in two incidents in  December and January at the Henry Hotel, a South of Market residential hotel.

A third video surfaced from the public defender's office on  Thursday, which appears to show plainclothes officers kicking in a door at  the home of a disabled man on New Year's Eve at Hotel Royan, a residential  hotel at 405 Valencia St. in the city's Mission District.

The video released today was the third to come from the Henry  Hotel, located at Sixth and Mission streets, and occurred on Dec. 2, said  Scott Sugarman, a private attorney who represented a man arrested in the  case.

According to a police report, the man was seen by police Officer  Buhagiar wearing a white and tan jacket as he entered the hotel. That jacket  was found in the room with crack cocaine and marijuana inside, and the man  was arrested.

However, the surveillance footage released today shows the man  wearing a black jacket as he entered the building, contradicting Buhagiar's  version of what happened, Adachi said.

When the man, whose name is not being released, was arrested, he  insisted that the white and tan jacket was not his, a statement the officers  did not include in their report, but acknowledged during court testimony in  the case.

Sugarman said it could not have been a case of simple  misidentification since "there's no mistaking black and white," and the  report, written by Officer Arshad Razzak, did not say that Buhagiar was  unsure of what he saws nor include the man's denial.

The man's case was dismissed by the district attorney's office on  Dec. 22. Two women who were also in the room accepted plea deals for drug  charges in the case.

Sugarman said the dismissal came after he told prosecutors that he  had video evidence contradicting the officers' report.

Sharon Woo, chief assistant for the district attorney's operations  department, said "the decision not to prosecute didn't necessarily come from  the video," but rather from issues involving an informant in the case.
   
A fifth case was dismissed this morning involving a suspected  robbery that turned into an arrest for possession of drugs for sales,  Adachi's spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said.

That arrest, which occurred on Dec. 12, was scheduled for trial  this Friday, but prosecutors dismissed the case today, Barak Aparton said.

Some of the officers from the prior potential misconduct cases  were involved in that case, as well as an Officer Christ, Barak Aparton said.

Christ is the eighth officer named by the public defender's office  in the misconduct probe, along with Razzak, Buhagiar, Richard Yick, Robert  Forneris, Arthur Madrid, Raymond Kane and Raul Elias.

The Police Department had not yet released the first names of  Officer Buhagiar and Officer Christ.

Woo acknowledged that the case was dismissed today due to the  involvement of officers named in the probe, and said the district attorney's  office is looking at other cases involving the eight officers to see whether  they might be affected.
   
"Cases are coming up quickly and we're making a decision to move  forward" or not depending on the evidence, Woo said. "We need to be certain  of the evidence we're receiving in court."

Six of the officers have been placed in administrative roles  during the investigation.

Police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said he did not know if the  two officers named today, Buhagiar and Christ, have also been put on  administrative duties, but said that is standard procedure any time there's  an investigation involving an officer.

All eight officers are from the Police Department's Southern  Station, where plainclothes operations have been suspended pending an  internal investigation, Police Chief Jeff Godown said Friday.

The FBI is also conducting its own investigation into the alleged  misconduct of the officers, spokeswoman Julianne Sohn said.
 

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
Bay Area Proud
Bay Area Proud is NBC Bay... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out