So it looks like, in the annals of San Francisco law enforcement history, the Henry Hotel scandal will not rank anywhere near the Debbie Madden catastrophe in terms of the number of cases the district attorney had to throw out like spoiled goods.
District Attorney George Gascón announced at a press conference Wednesday that he will dismiss 57 cases thanks to the officers who are caught up in allegations of misconduct in a raid of several rooms at the residential hotel along a seedy stretch of Sixth Street.
Fifteen of those cases have already been dismissed, and the rest will be dropped today.
Last week, Public Defender Jeff Adachi released video footage of the raid; Adachi accused the eight officers of then falsifying information on police reports after conducting warrantless searches without consent of apartment dwellers. He dubbed the scandal "Police, Lies, and Videotape."
Suffice to say, SFPD is slightly pissed about the whole thing.
Of course, the fallout of this mini-scandal ranks nowhere near the hundreds of
cases that had to be jettisoned last year in a historic crime lab scandal
in which a drug lab technician admitted to skimming cocaine from samples she was supposed to be testing.
But politically, it does call for reforms. DA Gascón, who was chief of police at the time of the drug busts, today announced there will be changes to clean-up the SFPD's search warrant protocols.
He said he will concede to interim Chief Jeffrey Godown's
request to have attorneys train officers on Fourth Amendment procedures,
and to have an assistant district attorney available 24-7 to review
search warrant requests.
The whole scandal has pissed off some cops, says one a veteran cop who attended the police academy
with two of the accused officers. He talked to SF Weekly candidly
in exchange for anonymity.
"As far as dudes being sloppy in
attempting to arrest someone, I don't see how that meets the standard of
such accused corruption...Those guys, they work really hard and care
about their jobs, it's a big blow to morale to see them so immediately
vilified," he said.
"If these guys are cutting corners and not going
about things the right legal way, that sucks and maybe they should be
reprimanded. But police work and plainclothes work is not black and
white -- you have to be creative to be effective," he tells us.
officers are still under investigation by both the DA and the FBI. The SFPD source said they should have waited until there were conclusive findings in the
investigation before dismissing dozens of cases.
"As a San Franciscan, I
think it's pretty troubling that people walk on cases before something
has been investigated," the officer said. "It's a bummer to see all
those cases dismissed. It was kind of depressing. I guarantee there's
other police departments in America where far worse things happen and
nobody bats an eye."
Of course, the relationship between cops, who arrest suspects, and the
public defender, who tries to get suspects acquitted, has always been tense. And that relationship was soured even more when Adachi tried to cut city workers' pensions with his 2010 Prop B ballot measure that failed at the polls.
The current Henry Hotel drama has been poisonous to the relationship between cops and the public defender. Sgt. Carl T (there's a whole back story
to that name) accused Adachi of grandstanding:
"He's got a
hard-on for the cops, and it doesn't bode well for him because he's
using us for his own political grandstanding. I think he's a snake. I
think he's sleazy," Carl T. says.
Of course in politics, it always goes both ways.