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Monday, September 14, 2009

Police Chief Gascon To VideoGate Cop: No Gun For You!

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2009 at 6:59 PM

Officer Andrew Cohen -- seen here gracing the cover of his musical venture. No, really.
  • Officer Andrew Cohen -- seen here gracing the cover of his musical venture. No, really.
Misunderstood filmmaker Officer Andrew Cohen had hoped to get off on the good foot with new Police Chief George Gascon. But his attempt is going down the crapper, and Gascon's statements in the Chron today indicating that Cohen may be on the chopping block are just the beginning.

For a refresher, it's been four years since Cohen was banished to the department's records room after the so-called "VideoGate" scandal. Back in 2005, Mayor Gavin Newsom, backed by then-Chief Heather Fong, denounced a video Cohen had intended as a parody to spice up a colleague's retirement party as racist and sexist.

Cohen was stripped of his sidearm, and has filled the years waiting for a police commission hearing by fetching files on a $104,000 salary. He's also whiled away the hours by penning a vitriolic blog to air the department's dirty laundry.

But when Gascon took office this summer, Cohen attempted to call a truce. He stopped writing his blog. He even blocked internet access to it. He dropped an application to be a public information officer in Gascon's mailbox.

He hasn't heard back about that. But Cohen did receive a letter the new chief about officer's fourth attempt to get back his gun. The answer: No gun for you.

In the August 31 letter, Gascon wrote: "Due to the ongoing disciplinary matters pending at this time and the seriousness of the conduct, the Weapon Return Panel recommended that you not be rearmed. I concur with the recommendation." Gascon even wrote that some of the charges facing Cohen (there's so many now that Cohen has lost track) involved "moral turpitude." 

Cohen is pissed, or as he put it in the letter he wrote to the chief last week, "dismayed and disappointed."

"I have been...a scapegoat for the past Administration," Cohen wrote, "and my only crime committed is that I had the tenacity and determination to fight back and not allow the 'Powers That Be' to railroad me or my fellow colleagues."

Cohen asked the chief to contact the VideoGate investigators and make his own decision about the case: "Chief, I am not the person that you have been led to believe I am," he wrote. 

Cohen's willpower to tone down his public criticism of the department seems to be thinning. He's already opened his blog back up to his internet audience with a new heading calling Gascon a "political puppet."      

"I hoped Gascon would take an unbiased approach to this and look at the facts," Cohen told the SF Weekly. "He hasn't had the decency to even contact me as the main player on this thing. I'm assuming the previous chief or the mayor had marching orders for him, otherwise he wouldn't make this hasty decision."


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Lauren Smiley


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