The SFPD video scandal continues.
Yesterday, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released another hotel security video that he says is evidence of police misconduct. Adachi says the video shows police entering the Julian Hotel carrying no bags. The officers were then shown leaving carrying a laptop case and another bag, neither of which officers listed as evidence, Adachi says.
Police also wrote that the suspect, Jesus Reyes, gave them permission to enter his hotel room and search for drugs, something he denies. The case was dropped after one of the officers failed to show up in court.
Here’s a statement from San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr:
All the officers in this case had been taken out of Plainclothes some have been reassigned to Administrative duties while the investigation is being conducted.”
“I want to emphasize that these officers have the same rights as any other citizen. They are assumed innocent until proven guilty.”
“If it is determined through the investigation that the officers acted inappropriately they will be discipline. This discipline will be swift and severe up to and including termination depending on the findings.”
“The hardworking men and women of the San Francisco Police Department will not tolerate dishonesty within their ranks. There is no place in this Department for dishonest Cops.”
And here’s the video:
The department has been roiled by a series of security videos that Adachi and some suspects’ defense attorneys have pointed to as evidence of illegal police conduct during drug arrests. Dozens of cases have been either dropped by the District Attorney or thrown out of court due to discrepancies between what was shown on tape and what officers reported in official accounts. The conduct at issue concerns proper use of warrants and other procedures that police are legally required to follow.
The original spate of cases resulted in the reassignment of a squad of eight detectives to administrative duties, and an ongoing FBI investigation.
Adachi’s high-profile dissemination of these videos to the media and on the web rankled Suhr’s predecessor, Interim Police Chief Jeff Godown. The animus between the Public Defender’s office and the department reached a climax in a March press conference by Godown, in which he slammed Adachi for “painting the San Francisco police department with a wide brush in reference to constant rampant misconduct among the plainclothes units in this city, and that is untrue.” You can listen to that press conference here. Adachi responded, as he has in this latest case, that the SFPD has “systematic” problems with llegal searches and falsified police reporters.
But Chief Suhr may have decided to fight fire with fire. According to the Examiner today, the department is looking into equipping cops with their own video equipment to record arrests. From the report:
The department will be looking at several different models of personal cameras that an officer would be equipped with before going into a drug bust or other arrest that requires consent or a search warrant. Suhr confirmed the plan Tuesday just hours after Public Defender Jeff Adachi showed reporters a video he says is proof that officers stole a laptop and digital camera from a suspected drug dealer…The chief’s plan already has the support of the Police Officers Association, Suhr said, but it would first need to be approved by the Police Commission.