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The Many Scandals of Police Chief Greg Suhr 

Wednesday, Dec 16 2015
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The amount of shit that has rolled off San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr's back would have buried many a less well-connected and less politically savvy top cop long ago. Suhr's tenure as a police leader has been as scandal-ridden as they come, from Fajitagate to racist text messages, and yet somehow the St. Ignatius/University of San Francisco/fourth-generation San Franciscan-pedigreed Suhr keeps managing to come up as squeaky clean-looking as his shiny bald head.

But Suhr's quick defense of the police shooting of Mario Woods, the 26-year-old African-American Bayview resident who died in a barrage of SFPD gunfire after allegedly "extending his right arm" in the direction of one of at least 10 officers surrounding him — a narrative that has been called into question by bystander video of the incident — could finally be his undoing. Calls for Suhr's resignation — or firing — grow louder by the day, leading many to question how long he can hold on. Still, given his history in the department, perhaps the real question is, how did he last until now?

Deputy Chief Suhr is charged with allegedly conspiring to obstruct the investigation into the case of three off-duty cops beating up a man over a bag of fajitas — a.k.a. Fajitagate. A judge eventually threw out Suhr's indictment.

Demotion No. 1: Then-Chief Heather Fong reassigned Suhr from Head of Patrol to guarding the city's water supply, reportedly for mishandling a G-8 protest that left a cop with a fractured skull.

Demotion No. 2: Suhr is demoted to captain after failing to file a report after a female friend told Suhr she'd been attacked by a boyfriend.

Suhr is selected chief by newly-elected Mayor Ed Lee.

Suhr is sued for retaliation by an SFPD lawyer who recommended his firing for mishandling the 2009 DV incident — and whom he fired two weeks after being named chief. The city settled the lawsuit in March 2015 for $725,000.

December 2014
Drug tester skimming supply in crime lab jeopardizes thousands of cases, but whistleblower says SFPD knew about the trouble for years.

February 2015
SFPD officers fatally shoot Amilcar Perez-Lopez. Suhr's defense of the shooting — that Perez-Lopez was charging officers with a knife — is belied by an autopsy showing he was shot in the back.

March 2015
The exposure of racist text messages exchanged by more than a dozen SFPD cops jeopardizes thousands of cases and reveals a troubling culture inside the rank and file.

April 2015
Federal public defenders cast doubts on a Tenderloin drug sting that only indicted black people, despite surveillance video showing people of other races attempting to sell drugs to undercover cops.

June 2015
Suhr draws criticism for declining to pursue grant money to clear a backlog of rape kits, then reverses his position and pledges to get the job done.

July 2015
Most of the political fallout from Kate Steinle's murder fell on Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, but the gun that killed her was stolen from a Bureau of Land Management car in the city — police search but are unable to find the gun until it is used to kill Steinle.

December 2015
Mario Woods is shot and killed by five SFPD officers. Will Suhr's quick defense of the shooting finally be his undoing?


About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.

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