By Chris Roberts
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
By Mike Billings
By Rachel Swan
By Erin Sherbert
By Joe Eskenazi
By Albert Samaha
The personal attacks that permeate George Cothran's Dec. 16 article ("The Squashing of Tippy Mazzucco," Cothran) render it unworthy of response, except to correct a number of factual inaccuracies which prevent readers from assessing for themselves the legitimacy of the decisions made regarding the execution of the Marcus Garvey/MLK raid.
First, Cothran depicted the Marcus Garvey/MLK raid as a "gang operation." He concludes, therefrom, that there was no reason for the organizers to notify the head of the district attorney's narcotics unit of their plans. The premise is wrong, as is the conclusion that Cothran draws from it.
This raid was a narcotics operation, directed primarily by the feds. Its purpose was to stop the drug dealing in the Marcus Garvey/MLK housing complex. The search warrants that were served were narcotics warrants. A substantial portion of the officers involved were members of the SFPD Narcotics Unit. Tippy Mazzucco and a second assistant district attorney, who was assigned to the narcotics unit, were both intimately involved in the planning and execution of the raid. The fact that Mazzucco and this second ADA opted not to use the ordinary chain of command regarding this raid was a direct violation of the operating protocols of this office. Cothran had to be aware of the participation of the second ADA, but for some reason chose to leave this fact out. By omitting details regarding the nature of the raid and its participants, Cothran manipulates the reader's attention away from the real issues presented by the manner in which the raid was conducted.
Second, each of the people who Cothran states knew of the decision to circumvent the chain of command (Richard Iglehart, George Butterworth, Lt. Kitt Crenshaw) denies such knowledge and indicates that Cothran never spoke to them to verify these facts.
By electing not to tell your readers the source of his information (donning the well-worn veil of "high-ranking SFPD source[s]") Cothran deprives readers of any meaningful ability to verify the reliability of his facts and evaluate his conclusions.
Third, the truly tragic figure in this debacle is one Ranon Ross.
Ross has been an investigator with the DA's Office for seven years; he is not a "deputy" as Cothran states. (Yet another easily verifiable fact that Cothran chose to ignore.) Yes, Ross grew up in the King/Garvey Coop. (King/Garvey is a cooperative housing development that does not even fall under the supervision of the S.F. Housing Authority. It is not a "housing project" -- another one of those pesky facts that Cothran failed to investigate and report accurately.) He has not lived there for 11 years.
Unconstrained by the fact the he happened to be born into a disadvantaged situation, Ross built a better life for himself, first attending a local public high school, later earning his undergraduate degree from the Claremont Colleges. He has been appointed to a position of trust and responsibility in this office and he has without exception lived up to that trust. His reputation is respected not just in this office, but in the SFPD; indeed, some of the officers identified in this article have entrusted him with sensitive information. Cothran does not identify a single legitimate reason that Ross could be considered a security risk. Most tellingly, he does not even ask the question. Why?
By extending credibility to the notion that Ross is a security risk, solely by virtue of his birthright -- and his race -- Cothran does his part to ensure that Ross will never be able to free himself from the stigma of an impoverished childhood -- an act which bespeaks Cothran's true politics more loudly than any personal attack that he can ever level against members of the District Attorney's Office.
Vernon C. Grigg III
Managing Attorney, Narcotics
San Francisco District Attorney's Office
George Cothran responds: At key points in his letter, I strongly suspect Mr. Grigg is playing a game of trying to get me to reveal my sources.
His most damaging allegation is that Assistant District Attorneys Richard Iglehart and George Butterworth and SFPD Lt. Kitt Crenshaw deny knowing Grigg was cut out of the chain of notification regarding the police raid on the Marcus Garvey/MLK projects, and that all three men say they never talked to me about the matter. To rebut this claim, I would have to reveal, through process of elimination, who I did and did not talk to. Since all my sources spoke to me on background, out of fear of retaliation, I will not play Mr. Grigg's game.
The numerous high-ranking law enforcement sources I talked to are thoroughly credible. Unbeknownst to each other, they told me that the proper superiors above Thomas Mazzucco were notified of the time and date of the police raid. These superiors were also told that Grigg had not been notified and the reasons why.
To Grigg's assertion that he should have been notified because the raid was a "narcotics operation," I can only repeat what I reported: The gang unit and gang prosecutor Mazzucco were in charge of the raid because the target was a gang, the so-called Knock Out Posse.