The San Francisco Police Department said it would expand its review of alleged officer misconduct in several narcotics arrests after defense attorneys revealed more video footage today they say contradicts sworn statements made by officers in police reports.
It was the third instance of video footage -- all culled from surveillance cameras at the Henry Hotel, a residential hotel on Sixth Street's skid row -- appearing to contradict officers' accounts of how drug seizures unfolded. Public Defender Jeff Adachi, holding a press conference today with private defense attorney Scott Sugarman, whose client's arrest was captured on the latest tape, dubbed the widening scandal "Police, Lies, and Videotape."
Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney for the Public Defender's office, said the pattern of police behavior revealed in the videos "goes beyond" the Southern station's plainclothes unit, which has been shut down as the SFPD investigates the incidents.
"We're just starting, I think, to scratch the surface," he said.
"We know there's this disturbing pattern of conduct," Gonzalez added.
The video released today shows Sugarman's client walking into the Henry Hotel in a dark jacket on Dec. 2, 2010. Police later arrested him in one of the building's rooms, claiming that a white jacket with cocaine in it belonged to him. The case against the man was dismissed on Dec. 22, after Sugarman said he "had a long conversation" with the deputy district attorney assigned to the case about the video footage.
However, speaking to reporters this afternoon, Sharon Woo, chief of operations for DA George Gascón, said the case had been dropped because of reluctance to expose a confidential informant who had helped officers make the arrest.
"The decision not to proceed on the case didn't have anything to do with this video," she said.
Lt. Troy Dangerfield, spokesman for the SFPD, said the department had "just received" the video footage from Sugarman's case and that it "will be turned over to internal affairs," which is investigating the other incidents.
The FBI also announced last week that it is looking into officers' conduct in light of the videotapes.
The public defender's office also announced today that the DA's office had dropped a Dec. 12 drug-bust case that involved some of the officers in the videos that surfaced last week. The six officers involved -- Raul Elias, Robert Forneris, Raymond Kane, Arthur Madrid, Arshad Razzak, and Richard Yick -- have been placed on desk duty while the investigation unfolds.
Dangerfield said he was not sure whether additional officers in the video tape released today would likewise be removed from street duty.
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