Public Defender Jeff Adachi continued his offensive against the police practices surrounding searches of residential hotels Thursday. In a letter to the district attorney and the police, the head defense attorney requested that police no longer be allowed to request the master keys from hotel managers.
This comes as Adachi orchestrates what he's dubbed the "Police, Lies, and Videotape" scandal to its ultimate effect, which all started when he released surveillance footage to the press last week that showed undercover officers helping themselves into rooms at the Henry Hotel, a flophouse on the part of the Sixth Street you best not dawdle.
So far, the resulting media frenzy has yielded great rewards for Adachi's clients. The district attorney dismissed 57 cases that involved the besmirched police officers, now under investigation by the DA and FBI.
Adachi argues that case law shows landlords cannot consent to searches
of tenants' rooms on their behalf. Yet he suggests that when an officer shows up demanding the landlord hand over the keys, the managers usually follow orders.
"Hotel owners and employees are under the false
impression that they must or should cooperate with good-faith requests
of the police, but the police customary practice of abusing the use of
these keys has made them unknowing and liable accomplices in these
invasions of privacy."
That exposes both the hotel owner and the city (by way of the SFPD) to a potential invasion of privacy lawsuit.
Adachi also released a letter Michael McCloskey, a private San Francisco-based attorney representing the Luz Hotel on Geary Street, to the captain of Northern Station. McCloskey wrote that SFPD Officer Kevin Byrne went to the Luz on Jan. 22, and demanded the keys to a certain room from the desk clerk, who summoned Virigilio Candari, the owner.
The letter alleges that Byrne pushed Candari away "in a violent gesture" when Candari approached a bulletin board with the IDs of registered guests. Candari was "intimidated" into handing over the key the officer requested. The officer then opened the door to the room, and emerged with the room's occupant named D-Boy under arrest.
McCloskey's letter says that Candari is in bad health, and had high blood pressure and an episode of hyperventilation after the incident.
It closes by asking Captain Anne Mannix of Northern Station to write a letter apologizing to Candari.
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