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DA Gascon Turns Over SFPD Misconduct Case To Feds

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Surveillance video of a drug bust conducted by San Francisco Police that may show misconduct. (CBS)

Surveillance video of a drug bust conducted by San Francisco Police that may show misconduct. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced Friday that he is turning over the investigation into allegations of police misconduct to federal authorities.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office will take over the investigation, which has prompted the dismissal of a total of 57 drug and robbery cases after Public Defender Jeff Adachi released surveillance video last week that he said shows corruption among some officers.

The four videos released since last week appear to contradict what some officers wrote in their police reports and said in court testimony about drug busts in December and January at residential hotels in the city’s South of Market and Mission neighborhoods.

Eight officers have been named in the investigation into the alleged misconduct. All are plainclothes officers from the Police Department’s Southern Station.

Adachi had called on Gascon, who was police chief at the time of the incidents, to hand over the investigation to another agency because of a potential conflict of interest.

Gascon had previously said he saw no reason to recuse himself from the case, but said in a statement Friday that “new information has come to light that indicates it is better to turn over this investigation to the FBI.”

“We will of course cooperate fully with the FBI and the Justice Department and provide whatever assistance they need from us,” Gascon said.

The statement did not specify what the new information was, and spokespeople for the district attorney’s office were not immediately available for comment.

Adachi said in a phone interview Friday that he believes “it’s the right decision” to have federal authorities investigate the case, but said he “would like to know what the new information was.”

He said, “I look forward to their investigation, and I’m hoping that they are transparent, particularly since there are many more cases which may have been affected by the misconduct.”

In three of the videos Adachi’s office released last week, officers apparently entered residences without a warrant or consent, contradicting what was written in their police reports.

A fourth video released Monday involved a man who was arrested after officers claimed they recognized him by the white and tan jacket he was wearing as he entered the Henry Hotel. The officer said they later found the jacket with crack cocaine and marijuana inside.

However, surveillance video showed that the man was wearing a black jacket when he entered the hotel just before his arrest, and the case was dismissed on Dec. 22.

The FBI had announced last week that they were conducting their own investigation into the misconduct case, and Gascon’s statement Friday said the district attorney’s office will “cooperate fully with the FBI, and provide whatever assistance they need from us.”

The Police Department is conducting its own internal investigation into the matter, which has prompted the indefinite suspension of plainclothes operations at the Southern Station.

The officers named in the report are Richard Yick, Arshad Razzak, Arthur Madrid, Robert Forneris, Raul Elias, Raymond Kane, Samuel Christ and Gregory Buhagiar.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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