San Francisco Police Chief William Scott’s criticism against “lenient” prosecutors took another turn on Wednesday after he announced his department will no longer work with the District Attorney’s Office in police-involved shooting cases.
Scott, who has spoken against San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s reform-leaning policies, said the DA’s Office broke their mutual agreement after a recent testimony from a DA investigator revealed she was instructed to mislead police.
“Very serious concerns have been brought to my attention regarding recent testimony in the Superior Court of the County of San Francisco from a member of the DA’s Office who was assigned as an investigator to your Independent Investigations Bureau at the time of the incident in question, Scott wrote to Boudin. “Other evidence that was brought forward to the court corroborated the DA Investigator’s testimony as it related to violations of the (Memo Of Understanding) agreement. It appears that the DA’s Office has an ongoing practice of investigations against SFPD officers that includes withholding and concealing information and evidence the SFPD is entitled to have to further ancillary criminal investigations in accordance with the MOU.”
Scott’s decision to sever the agreement stems from a case involving Officer Terrance Stangel, who is facing a criminal battery and assault charge for allegedly beating a man with a baton.
Stangel’s attorney called for the case to be dismissed after Magen Hayashi– a DA Investigator with the Independent Investigations Bureau– tested on Jan. 27 that she felt she could be fired if she didn’t follow prosecutors’ wishes.
The Independent Investigator’s Bureau works independently from other departments in the DA’s Office and handles used of force cases, police-involved shootings and investigates in-custody deaths.
According to police officials, Hayashi also was instructed not to share information with police investigators regarding an alleged domestic violence case involving the suspect, Dacari Spiers, who Stangel allegedly beat.
Stangel’s attorney allegedly assaulted his girlfriend before the altercation occurred between the officer and the suspect.
In a press release, Scott said he has reached out to California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office and the California Department of Justice concerning possible options to handle police-related investigations.
The San Francisco Police Department and the DA’s Office had renewed their agreement in July 2021, but that could terminate within 15 days.
Scott also recently slammed Boudin’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Sergio Lugo, who was detained by police on Feb. 17, 2021 after a violent altercation with police.
Police officials said they were investigating Lugo, who was allegedly “casing” the Noe Valley area, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. When the plainclothes officers tried to arrest Lugo, police said he lunged toward the officers with an X-Acto knife, injuring one of the cop’s hand. Another officer also was injured during the altercation.
The Public Defender’s Office said the officers illegally detained Lugo and “without any verbal warning” and was beaten by the officers. The incident was not captured by police body cameras since the officers were not wearing them.
Scott called Boudin’s decision not to file charges “unacceptable” and only encourages criminals to use violence against police officers.
Robyn Burke, a spokesperson with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, told the Post in a statement on Wednesday that since MOU between the departments was first implemented in 2019, the DA,’s Office has made “enormous” progress towards reducing police violence against residents, and in particular, people of color.
Burke added, “It is disappointing but no coincidence SFPD chose to withdraw from this agreement during the first-ever trial against an on-duty San Francisco police officer for an unlawful beating.
“SFPD’s decision comes a week after an SFPD fatal police shooting in which police falsely characterized the decedent as being in possession of a firearm and weeks after a criminal case was dismissed after officer excessive force came to light. San Franciscans deserve to be safe—including from unwarranted police violence.”
Scott has said the increase of gun violence against law enforcement, including the deaths of NYPD Officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, are fueled by heated rhetoric against law enforcement after George Floyd’s death and lenient prosecutors’ decision not to prosecute criminals.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Taper last week, Scott said although he understands the need for police reforms, there also needs to be “balance” and accountability for people who violate the law.
“When crimes are committed against police officers, whether it’s a minor assault — in my opinion, there’s no such thing as a minor assault against a police officer,” Scott said. “When an officer’s out there doing the job that the public is asking them to do and they’re doing it lawfully and doing it within the policies, and they’re attacked, that’s not a minor thing.
“And whether that attack results in no injury or a minor injury or death, like we saw with our fallen officers in New York, nothing about attacking a police officer is minor. And when the evidence is there, it is my professional and personal opinion that there should be consequences when police officers are attacked. And I think when there are policies that broadly dismiss those cases, that’s a real problem. It’s a problem for our society, and it’s a problem for policing.”