A San Francisco Sheriff’s captain caught on video pushing a protester to the ground is now facing both criminal and internal probes.
In the video, recorded on a cell phone after 5 p.m. during a protest near Market Street on May 31, a uniformed officer rushes in to push a protester on a sidewalk in the back, who then falls into the street. Another sheriff’s officer then appears to come to the fallen man’s assistance. The protester ended up in front of a law enforcement vehicle that was parked partially on the curb at Pine and Davis streets.
While the protester’s identity isn’t known, authorities on Thursday confirmed the identity of the officer who pushed him as 22-year veteran sheriff’s captain, John Ramirez.
Ramirez, who oversees field operations, could not be reached for comment.
In a statement released Thursday, Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said that while an internal probe is under way into the “actions of our staff during crowd management activities” that day, the department’s “initial review of available information and circumstances does not appear to rise to criminal conduct.”
District Attorney Chesa Boudin, however, contested that assertion as premature, based on his viewing of the video.
“It’s very disturbing,” he said. “It appears to interfere with and undermine our commitment to First Amendment peaceful protest -- it’s for all those reasons that we are in the midst of a criminal investigation.”
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The president of the Sheriff’s Managers & Supervisors Association issued a statement Thursday about the incident.
Sheriff’s Captain Lisette Adams stressed that while the full context of the incident is not yet clear, the association is confident that the ongoing probes will be thorough and fair to everyone involved.
But Boudin said he is concerned about the implications of a top manager being involved.
“Someone that high ranking is actually supposed to lead by example,” he said, “and instead, the example being set here by the sheriff’s department leadership is one of escalation, intimidation and violence against peaceful protesters. It’s a disturbing message indeed.”
Civil rights attorney John Burris echoed that concern.
He said the captain’s actions were “telling officers that it doesn’t matter, ‘I can do it, you can do it,’ and we don’t have to treat these people in a respectful way. That’s very significant to me, that it’s a captain.”