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DA Dropping Slew Of New Cases Amid SFPD Surveillance Scandal

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An image from a surveillance video showing plainclothes San Francisco Police officers leaving the Jefferson Hotel, Feb. 25, 2011. (SF Public Defender’s Office)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Friday’s dropped cases involving officers allegedly mishandling drug busts are a sign that these incidents are no longer isolated to specific buildings in San Francisco.

District Attorney George Gascon Friday afternoon dropped 26 cases involving San Francisco police’s Mission Station, which has recently been under scrutiny after Adachi released footage that he claims show misconduct by officers during drug busts at residential hotels around the city.

One of the cases dismissed Friday took place in August last year, when police were checking the home of a man on probation and officers allegedly kicked down the man’s bedroom door and took property from his home, according to Adachi.

The man’s stepfather and mother, Javier and Mariette Tenorio, saw the wave of cases being dismissed and then approached the public defender, telling him that property had been stolen, Adachi said.

KCBS’s Anna Duckworth Reports:

Javier Tenorio explained at a news conference today that police initially approached him on Aug. 19, 2010, and asked him if he had any drugs.

He said he then consented to a search after an officer, who he identified as Sgt. Kevin Healy, threatened to arrest him if he did not comply.

During the search, Healy took Tenorio’s keys to his home, Tenorio said.

He said that Healy then went with Tenorio to his home, and Healy told Tenorio that he did not need a search warrant, Tenorio said.

Healy then searched Tenorio’s home without his consent, Tenorio said, and Healy kicked down his 32-year-old son’s locked door when he could not open it.

Police then confiscated several items from his son’s bedroom that were never booked into evidence, according to Tenorio.

The items include a collection of baseball hats, a large jar of quarters, a camera, two new iPods, a cellphone, and new shavers, Tenorio said.

He said his son’s belongings were never returned to him. His son was later arrested in March this year on drugs-related charges, and was due to be released after his case was dismissed Friday afternoon, according to Adachi’s and Gascon’s offices.

“If we have officers that are in fact stealing property, that obviously questions the credibility of everything else that they do,” Gascon said.

A total of 119 cases involving alleged misconduct by San Francisco police will have been dismissed as of this afternoon, according to the district attorney.

“The officers in these videos have the same rights as any other citizen,” the Police Department said in a statement.

“If it is determined through the investigation that any officer is proven to be dishonest, in any way, they will be disciplined,” the statement said. “This discipline will be swift and severe up to and including termination.”

Adachi also highlighted another case that was dropped last year, when officers at the city’s Mission Station wrote a report of events that apparently does not match up with a video released today by the public defender’s office.

The footage shows officers performing a drug bust on a suspect, Jesus Inastrilla, 50, who was allegedly selling undercover officers cocaine.

In a police report written by police Officer Peter Richardson, he said on April 22, 2010, the night of the bust, Inastrilla raised his hand to his mouth and spit a substance believed to be cocaine into his hand and gave it to another suspect, Simon Hernandez.

But in the footage released Friday by Adachi, Inastrilla is never seen raising a hand to his mouth.

“The case involving the newly released video is nearly a year old and has already been investigated through the appropriate channels,” read the statement from the San Francisco Police Department.

Adachi and Gascon said they first saw the video on Thursday, and Adachi said these cases can no longer be considered isolated incidents of misconduct because they have now spread from residential hotels to undercover street operations.

The videos that have been released have prompted the indefinite shutdown of plainclothes operations at the city’s Southern Station, as well as the placement of eight officers on administrative duties pending an investigation.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan 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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