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.)

Comments (4)
  1. Kat-USA says:

    I was previously an attorney in SF and always wondered why the City is overflowing with heroin and crack, yet the police only seem to arrest the lowest level street drug offenders (including users). But they never seem to go after the serious big-time dealers. It’s as if they’re picking the low-hanging fruit to keep their conviction statistics up. Once a client, an admitted heroin user, was arrested for simple possession of a tiny amount of heroin (personal use). I read the police report describing the known heroin dealers they were staking out in the Mission District. They saw the dealers pick up my client, drive around the block and drop him off. But they arrested the buyer for the small amount he’d purchased, rather than the dealers. I asked my client why they’d gone after him instead of the dealers. “Oh, those guys are facing their 3rd strike and they have guns, the cops are afraid of them:” In court, the Asst. DA assigned the case complained, “Why do the even send us these piddly cases”, and dropped it. This is an example of the reasons Calif. jails and prisons are full of non-violent drug offenders, even at a time our state is nearly bankrupt. Drug treatment would be a much cheaper and more effective way to deal with this problem in the long-run.

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