San Francisco News

Over two-dozen felony cases may be dropped in SF

Friday, May 27, 2011

Several felony investigations are unraveling because of a series of videos. The plainclothes officers are already under investigation for theft, but now, the video will apparently force prosecutors to drop 26 cases and possibly hundreds more.

This all stems from allegations by the public defender that a handful of San Francisco police officers are stealing from drug suspects. As a result, dozens of felony cases in which those officers have worked on are expected to be thrown out.

A previously released video calls into question the credibility of a handful of SFPD officers. Public Defender Jeff Adachi released it a few weeks ago. He says it shows plainclothes officers leaving a suspected drug dealer's hotel with a laptop and camera bag -- items Adachi said were never turned in as evidence.

"When you have officers on tape possibly stealing property, that's a crime," said Adachi.

The district attorney's office has now decided to dismiss as many as 26 felony cases that involve searches by the officers seen on one of the videos and another taped back in December. Adachi said it shows officers leaving a suspect's room with an iPod, DVDs and clothes.

"The District Attorney has decided rather than to try these cases, to dismiss it because the credibility of these officers is obviously called into question," said Adachi.

The officers on video have since been removed from plain clothes narcotics duty while Internal Affairs investigates. Some are on desk duty, the rest are on regular patrol. Police union president Gary Delagnes defends the officers who he says aren't thieves.

"They're not going to steal a laptop computer that's eight years old that belongs to some speeder in the Tenderloin," said Delagnes.

Delagnes also says the fact that the District Attorney's office has dismissed the 26 or so cases, doesn't mean the officers are guilty of anything.

"As a union, we're forced to get them attorneys because there are allegations and the attorneys are obviously going to tell the cops, 'Hey, you can't comment on these cases. You're under investigation.' So of course they're going to throw the cases out," said Delagnes.

Adachi isn't convinced. He says his office is now reviewing over 6,000 other cases involving the officers in question.

"Our office is now reviewing over 6,000 cases involving these police officers and other officers who were involved in conducting illegal searches. So this is big, this is huge," said Adachi.

An SFPD spokesperson told ABC7 it is the department's understanding that the cases are not dismissed outright. He says they could be brought back pending the outcome of the investigation into the officers.

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SFPD, Jeff Adachi, san francisco news, lilian kim
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