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Thursday, December 10, 2015

SF Cop Used Racist Language, Sexually Harassed Suspects, According to Court Filings

Posted By on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 at 12:34 PM

click to enlarge Bad year for these guys. - WIKIPEDIA
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  • Bad year for these guys.
Defendants snared in a federal drug sting are accusing San Francisco police, including one veteran sergeant, of using racist language, committing sexual harassment, and violating city police rules by performing cavity searches on female suspects.

SFPD Sgt. Shaughn Ryan, currently assigned to Tenderloin station, was one of the city police officers who worked on drug busts associated with "Operation Safe Schools," a series of undercover drug stings run by the SFPD and the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to court filings. 

The stings, meant to crack down on drug dealing near schools in the Tenderloin, netted 37 arrests over a two year period. All of the suspects arrested and charged in federal court are African American. All were arrested with small amounts of crack cocaine, heroin, and other prescription drugs — but federal charges mean a mandatory yearlong prison term, rather than shorter terms or alternatives to incarceration available in local court. 

The defendants' attorneys from the federal Public Defenders' office are seeking to have the charges tossed on grounds of selective prosecution based on the defendants' race.

SFPD Sgt. Shaugh Ryan. - LINKEDIN
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  • SFPD Sgt. Shaugh Ryan.
In filings made last week, fourteen of the defendants gave sworn statements claiming racist and sexist treatment from Ryan, a department veteran with almost 20 years' experience, and other police officers,  who "routinely give more attention to African Americans than individuals of other races."

San Francisco cops routinely refer "to African-Americans as 'niggers,'" wrote defendant Lakeysha White. "I have been personally been called 'nigger' and 'black bitch' by police officers in the Tenderloin on multiple occasions."

Efforts to reach Ryan at Tenderloin station were not successful. A San Francisco police spokesman said the department could not comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office did not return a call seeking comment.

The court filings mention several officers, but Ryan is singled out as a sexual harasser.

In 2012, when Saquita Nash was detained for suspicion of drug possession, female officers attempted to perform a cavity search on her vagina seeking a bag of drugs. When Nash resisted the search, Ryan "forcibly" removed the drugs from her genitals while she was handcuffed.

"I screamed, 'help me, help me!'" Nash wrote. "Officer Ryan ultimately extracted the drugs from my vagina, but I felt extremely violated in the process."

In 2008, when Acacia McNeal was being transported to county jail, Ryan allegedly told her "a comment ... like, 'I just got married and you better be glad... or I'll take some black pussy.'"

In 2013, Ryan allegedly told Angela McNeal that "You should be doing something else with that body, you could be making that money doing something else other than selling drugs."

Another officer, Darren Nocetti, allegedly put a suspect, identified only as "Joe," into a chokehold during a search for drugs.

"I once observed him choke a man... who Officer Nocetti suspected as having drugs inside of his mouth," wrote Aaron Mathews. "Joe denied having
any drugs. In response, Officer Nocetti placed him in a chokehold until blood vessels in his eyes appeared to pop, turning Joe's eyes red."

Danielle Harris, managing attorney for the San Francisco Public Defender's felony unit, called the court filings "extremely disturbing."

"They describe a pattern of racial profiling, sexual assault and brutality by the very people entrusted with citizens’ safety," she said. "We will be looking back into our cases involving these officers and talking to our clients to see if they were victimized. It is crucial that these allegations are thoroughly investigated and that the involved officers are off the street in the meantime. "

Allegations of racism have dogged the San Francisco Police Department this year, after four former cops were snared in a federal corruption sting following raids on SRO hotels on Sixth Street and in the Tenderloin.

One of those former police officers, Arshad Razzak, worked with Ryan on at least one Tenderloin drug case, according to court filings.

At least ten police officers are under investigation for exchanging racist text messages with former SFPD Sgt. Ian Furminger, who was convicted of corruption and discharged from the department. The messages included statements like "White power," "All niggers must fucking hang," and "Watch out for BM's." BM is department shorthand for black male.

Here's a selection from those texts. 


That's the same terminology used by an unidentified SFPD officer who worked on Safe Schools. You can hear that, and you can see an undercover informant passing up a drug buy from an Asian woman in order to buy drugs from a black woman, on the below video. 

According to the federal Public Defender, 201 people were arrested for drug dealing in the Tenderloin between January 2013 and February 2015. Of those, 50.7 percent were black — but only black people were referred to the U.S. Attorney for federal charges.

In previous court filings, U.S. attorneys have denied basing their prosecutions on race.

You can read some of the filings for yourself below.

SFPD officers accused of racism, sexism

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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