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Friday, March 5, 2010

Controversial Cop, Lawsuit Magnet Jerry Lankford Abruptly Retires

Posted By on Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 1:25 PM

click to enlarge badlietenant.jpg
 SF Weekly has learned that Jerry Lankford, a San Francisco Police lieutenant whose three-decade career was fraught with strife and controversy, has retired.

Department spokeswoman Lieutenant Lyn Tomioka confirmed that Lankford retired Feb. 11, with full benefits.

Lankford's problems in the department began in 1983, when he was arrested for soliciting an undercover Oakland police officer posing as a prostitute. Although Lankford was suspended from the SFPD for 60 days, no charges were filed against him.

Instead, Lankford ascended the ranks, becoming a sergeant in 1992 and a lieutenant in 1996.

Over the next 10 years, he was named in five lawsuits against the department that cost the city $59,000, the Chron reported. One suit was filed by another SFPD officer who claimed that Lankford ripped out some of his chest hair during an argument over an incident report. Another officer, who is Jewish, filed a complaint against Lankford for allegedly saying to him, "every time I see you, it reminds me of the Holocaust."

In 2003, Lankford was accused of abducting 19-year-old Christina Gomez

in his SUV while off-duty, and holding her against her will.

Although no criminal charges were filed, Gomez sued the department and the case

settled for $10,000 out of court.  

About a year later, the Chron reported that internal police

investigation of Lankford found he had frequented "red-light districts"

in San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville, in three cases with a towel

draped over his license plate. In 2006 the Police

Commission found Lankford guilty of those charges.

In April of 2009, however, the commission cleared Lankford of the Gomez abduction charges. (Additionally, he had been accused of intimidating the officer who took down Gomez' report, but the commission cleared him of that as well).

The commissioners said the police department hadn't proven

its case, and allowed Lankford to reclaim his badge and gun. He had been

working behind a desk for five years.

"I think the department has dragged Jerry Lankford through the mud long

enough," his attorney Eileen Burke told the Chron.

Now, less than a year later and under a new police chief who has vowed to clean up the department, Lankford has retired at 54. Reached on his cell phone and asked why he retired, Lankford directed the SF Weekly to his lawyer, Eileen Burke. She has not returned the call.    

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Ashley Harrell

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