Nobody knows what Public Defender Jeff Adachi's political aspirations are, but if he has any intention of running for mayor, we know what votes he won't get. Not only is he taking on pension reform, but he is relentlessly calling out the San Francisco Police Department over a series of videos that he says reveal lies, brutality, and illegal searches.
On Wednesday, Adachi called the press to show them yet another video that he says is mounting evidence of a police scandal which he has dubbed "Police, lies, and videotape." The latest one shows a police officer physically attacking a bystander after illegally searching a room in the Jefferson Hotel, an SRO in the Tenderloin, Adachi says.
On Dec. 30, police detained 48-year-old Fernando Santana in the
hotel lobby, claiming they saw him holding crack cocaine. But the video
footage revealed today tells a different story.
The footage released directly contradicts the statements police gave regarding the incident, Adachi says. While police said in their report that they saw Santana with cocaine in his "outstretched hand," the video shows that he had his hands in his pockets. Police also claim they had permission to search his room; the video shows a handcuffed Santana shaking his head as officers searched his residence.
The video then shows the most dramatic moment -- a bystander walks up to the room and peeks inside. As he walks away, Officers Ricardo Guerrero and Peter Richardson "violently tackle him in the hallway," Adachi's office says.
The officers had a choke hold on the man while more police searched him. The man is released, however, the police report describes this only as a brief detention.
Santana was arrested on suspicion of possession for sale of crack cocaine. He later filed a report, claiming some of his property was missing after the search. The video shows Officer Guerrero walking out of the room with Santana's black duffel bag, although it was never booked as evidence.
"We have yet to run across a single video that matches up with what police swear to in their report," says Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney with the Public Defender's Office.
Adachi has already urged the Board of Supervisors to draft legislation that would bar police from using residential hotel master keys to access rooms. "With Police Chief Greg Suhr taking the helm, the time is ripe for a culture change in our city's police department," he said in a statement.
Here is the video: