Update 10:45 a.m. KQED’s Peter Jon Shuler just attended a press conference by SF Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown, whom he described as “teed-off” (not exact wording) about the latest video release that the Public Defender’s Office says shows improper police conduct, and which was the basis for a drug bust being thrown out of court.
Update 11:55 a.m. The SF Appeal has a report about Godown’s press conference, with additional quotes:
“He continues to paint the Police Department with a wide brush” and “screams the sky is falling,” Godown said. “I’m not going to sit back and let people bad mouth this department, and put out allegations of misconduct when they’re not true,” he said.
The chief said he saw nothing in the video that led him to believe there’s any issues with the officers that would require them to be removed from their regular duties.
District Attorney George Gascon had said Wednesday that he also disagrees with the judge’s decision to drop the case, and that his office would continue to pursue charges.
“We’re going to continue to do our job and we’re not worried about people videotaping what we’re doing,” Godown said.
Godown said he was perplexed as to why the case was dismissed, and that it would be “business as usual” at the Richmond station at which the officers involved work. Godown said he doesn’t see this case as connected to the spate of dropped cases related to the squad of Southern Station officers, now assigned to administrative duties, which came to light upon the release of hotel security videos.
“I’m not going to sit back and let people badmouth this dept,” Godown said.
Godown said he first heard of the latest video through rumors, then from the DA’s office, and not Adachi. He said he was “disappointed” in Adachi’s campaign to “paint the department with a broad brush.”
Watch the latest video here.
Another SFPD case was thrown out of court yesterday due to a video that contradicts an account of the arrest given by officers in police reports.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
A San Francisco judge dismissed marijuana trafficking allegations Wednesday after finding a videotape contradicted officers’ account of a drug search at a suspect’s Richmond District apartment. In the latest case in which video appeared to undermine police testimony, Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval issued his dismissal order after a three-day preliminary hearing on drug dealing charges lodged against McLaren Wenzell, 23, stemming from the March 1 police search and seizure of 4 pounds of marijuana. Full article
The dismissal represents the first dropped case unrelated to the officers implicated in the original spate of arrests, says Tamara Aparton of the Public Defender’s Office. Those 76 cases, related to illegal police procedures while making arrests, have been either dropped or thrown out of court. Those cases involve eight Southern Station plainclothes officers, whose improper conduct came to light through Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s release of hotel security-camera videos showing discrepancies between the officers’ accounts and what actually took place.
Aparton said the Public Defender’s office would “most likely” sift through more cases related to the officers involved in the latest dismissal, to look for discrepancies.
Adachi, as well as defense attorneys for the arrested suspects, contend that the videos show police making arrests without proper warrants. The officers then filled out incident reports and gave court testimony, he said, which portrayed the arrests as legally conducted. Adachi’s office said the discrepancies amount to perjury.
The officers involved in those arrests were assigned to administrative duties while the FBI investigates.
KQED’s Peter Jon Shuler is attending a press conference by SFPD Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown. One thing Godown made clear at a previous briefing on the scandal: He wanted Adachi to give him a heads up on any new videos that surfaced before they were released to the public. “I’d like to know about it,” he said. “I don’t want to see it on TV.” Or the Internet, I’d imagine.
We’ll see if that was the case here…
The Public Defender’s Office describes the significance of the video on its YouTube channel this way:
San Francisco Police Officers Thomas Watts, Michael Zhang, and Michele Martinez enter an apartment building by following a resident’s car into the garage. According to the police report written by Zhang, and testimony by Watts, the officers wore their stars on their “outer most clothing,” but no stars are visible in the video. The officers claimed they conducted a consensual search, but no consent was given. The case was dismissed.
Also, here’s a long interview with Jeff Adachi about the video scandal from the blog Zennie62.com, conducted on March 14. It’s a good opportunity to learn what the scandal is all about, from the Public Defender’s point of view, of course.