Bay City News

Sentencing for Man Who Hit Officer During 2017 Pursuit, Leaving Him With Brain Damage

A 51-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum term possible of 12 years and eight months in prison for striking and seriously injuring a San Francisco police officer while fleeing in a stolen vehicle in 2017, prosecutors said.

A San Francisco Superior Court jury found Willie Flanigan guilty on July 11 of assault with a deadly weapon, hit-and-run, evading police, resisting an officer and other charges for the case on Oct. 18, 2017 that left Officer Elia Lewin-Tankel with permanent brain damage.

Flanigan initially fled after a police sergeant responded to a notification of a possibly stolen tan SUV parked in the 400 block of Ellis Street. The sergeant spotted the car at a gas station and Flanigan appeared to notice the sergeant and drove off on a one-way street in the wrong direction, prosecutors said.

He then sped through a construction zone on Van Ness Avenue and continued to drive against traffic on Golden Gate Avenue before going into a parking garage. As he sped out of the garage, he struck Lewin-Tankel, a bicycle officer.

Officers lost sight of Flanigan, who drove the vehicle to an area of Fell Street where he removed the license plate, changed his clothing and fled into a park, prosecutors said. He was eventually found later that day on Ellis Street with evidence linking him to the stolen car.

Lewin-Tankel remains in a medical care facility as a result of his injuries, according to the district attorney's office.

"This man's recklessness took a significant toll on an officer and his family," District Attorney George Gascon said in a news release.

Police Chief William Scott said he hopes the sentencing of Flanigan "will bring some measure of relief for Elia and his family as he continues his recovery."

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