Videos Prompt FBI Investigation Of Alleged SFPD Misconduct

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/BCN) – The FBI plans to conduct its own investigation into the alleged misconduct of police officers during at least three drug busts in San Francisco in recent months, an FBI spokeswoman said Friday.

Videos were released Wednesday by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who said the tapes show that police violated residents’ constitutional rights by entering their homes in two incidents at a South of Market residential hotel in December and January.

Adachi said that officers then lied about their alleged unlawful entry in police reports and in court.

Surveillance video in a third case has since been released, which Adachi’s office said Friday shows plainclothes officers kicking in a door at the home of a disabled man and his dog on New Year’s Eve at Hotel Royan, a residential hotel located at 405 Valencia St. in the city’s Mission District.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn said, “The FBI is conducting an independent investigation of allegations against several police officers and we have the cooperation of the San Francisco Police Department.”

San Francisco police Chief Jeff Godown said Friday that plainclothes operations at the department’s Southern Station have been suspended pending investigations.

He said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi has made investigations “very difficult” by not immediately submitting footage to police of the drug busts.

A total of six officers are accused of the misconduct. Police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said the officers involved in the accusations haven’t been placed on administrative leave, but instead, “They’ve been reassigned to a non-public contact assignment, because they are just allegations at this point.”

Some of the officers in the newest footage, which was released by the public defender’s office, are among those who have been accused in the two previous incidents, according to Adachi’s office.

“This is the first in what will likely be a long line of cases involving these officers,” said Tamara Barak Aparton, spokeswoman for the public defender’s office.

On the night of the Dec. 31 incident, the video shows officers knocking on the door at the home of a 28-year-old disabled man, Barak Aparton said.

“Police wrote in their report that their badges were visible, but nowhere in the video can you see badges,” she said.

On the footage, the man apparently tries to block the door, but police kick it in. He was then arrested after police said they saw crack cocaine in plain sight, according to Adachi’s office.

“In their report, police said they checked via computer to verify that this man had a warrant for his arrest,” Barak Aparton said. “But there’s no record of them doing that until after his arrest.”

At a hearing on Thursday, prosecutors dropped the misdemeanor drug possession charges against the man, said Seth Steward, spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

In the two other busts that were potentially mishandled, which took place on Dec. 23 and Jan. 5, San Francisco police entered rooms on the fifth floor of the Henry Hotel at Sixth and Mission streets after getting tips about narcotics in the rooms, according to the public defender’s office.

In the Dec. 23 incident, four officers used a master key that can open doors of any room at Henry Hotel.

Police Officer Arshad Razzak wrote in his police report that officers knocked on the resident’s door, announced themselves and waited for a response.

After hearing no response, police used the key to slightly open the door and, without entering, told a female resident they were waiting outside until they could obtain a search warrant.

The woman then gave the officers verbal permission to search the premises while police contacted headquarters and asked for a consent form she could read, according to Razzak’s report.

A man inside the room was then arrested on suspicion of possessing 65 grams of heroin and a single rock of crack cocaine, said Deputy Public Defender Anne Irwin, who represented the suspect.

However, the surveillance video obtained by the public defender’s office from the hotel appears to show officers walking up to the door of the room, bursting in, and immediately pulling out a man and putting him in handcuffs.

In the Jan. 5 case, four officers again responded to the fifth floor of the hotel, which Adachi called a “so-called hot spot” of drug activity, and obtained the master key.

A police report written by Officer Richard Yick stated that officers were met in the hallway by a woman who voluntarily opened the door to her room.

A man who came to the door told officers he was on probation, which the officers then confirmed with dispatch before entering and searching the room, according to Yick’s report.

The man and woman were arrested after police found about 15 grams of heroin, said Deputy Public Defender Tal Klement, who represented the pair.

However, the surveillance video taken on that day appears to show Yick covering the camera for about 15 seconds while other officers allegedly ordered the woman to open the door, according to Klement, who said there was never any conversation with the occupant of the room.

After obtaining the surveillance tapes, the public defender’s office “kept the fact that we had the video under wraps” as the officers testified in court that they had followed lawful procedures while searching the residences.

After the video evidence was presented to the judge, the Jan. 5 case was dismissed on Monday.

Razzak and Yick were both present in the Dec. 23 and Jan. 5 cases, according to the public defender’s office.

Barak Aparton said the four officers accused of misconduct in the three cases are Robert Forneris, Arthur Madrid, Raymond Kane, and Raul Elias.

Barak Aparton said she expects more cases against clients of the public defender will be dropped because of the alleged misconduct of these officers.

“These guys did several busts a day. They’re involved in a lot of drug cases and robberies,” she said.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who was police chief at the time of the incidents, said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon that the video footage was brought to his attention earlier that day, and “gives us great cause for concern.”

Given Gascon’s ties to the Police Department, Adachi had called for an outside agency like the state attorney general’s office to investigate the case.

But Gascon said he saw “absolutely no reason why I should recuse myself” from the case.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)


One Comment

  1. Mitch Gilliams says:

    The police are the biggest gang in the Bay Area. Police=Criminals

  2. Bloodhounds says:

    Sounds like some more bully cops. I wonder if any of them were the same cops on the fahita case a few years back? Probably not I’m sure they were promoted.

  3. Kitty Lee says:

    how would this compare to the chinese plain-clothes “police” work? where they can detain anybody and never show a badge? shame on the department! show some civility here!

  4. deadzone says:

    Hey let’s here about the residents in those apratments. How many of them were on probation at that time? I would guess.. ALL OF THEM! Let’s see, if you’re on probation, you give up our rights and agree to be searched by law enforcement and time and for any reason = NO NEED FOR A SEARCH WARRANT.

    I know for a fact that over half of the so called residents that live in that hotel are on probation.

    Let’s hear the whole story before we rush to judge those cops. Jeff Adachi is really tring to push his “Son of B” proposition and this is a dirty tactic in an attempt to gain the approval of the citizens of San Francisco.

    1. Jeeves says:

      Well said. Adachi is twice the snake these cops are…. lets see what the true facts of the cases are before we jump on his bandwagon

  5. Thug cops = Dirty cops says:

    Hey ‘Deadzone’ – the cops don’t know who all is on probation until the busted in a saw who was in those rooms. And non-probationers do NOT give up any constitutional rights.

  6. JaneQPublic says:

    Quote: “…the surveillance video taken on that day appears to show Yick covering the camera for about 15 seconds while other officers allegedly ordered the woman to open the door.”

    Cop would have NO LEGITIMATE reason to cover up any camera. Seems to me the thing speaks for itself that he didn’t want witnesses to what his buddy bad cops were doing or about to do.

    1. jon says:

      He covered up the camera but then took his hand off BEFORE they entered the room. The whole incident was still filmed, so I doubt he was covering anything up.

  7. Mike says:

    San Francisco Chief of Police should turn in his shield and offer his resignation as the video was like a scene out of SHIELD; the FBI should investigate whether this is a one time situation or something that happens more often.

    It’s like a shoplifter getting caught, it’s probably not the first time the individual shoplifted, it’s just the first time he got caught.

    This is the first time that these cops got caught on video and stupid thing is why did they do this when they knew the camera was running; talk about arrogance as these cops thought they were above the law.

  8. Razer says:

    Police should wait in their stations until they get a 911 call. Why are the pigs bullying these drug dealers? I dont think anyone made an official 911 call so stop harassing. And they better not, cuz then they some bi7ch a$$ snitches.

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