Former San Francisco Police Commissioner President Julius Turman was found dead in his home on Sunday, May 13.
The cause of death has not yet been released, and although he shared the fact that he was ill with close friends, his death has been a surprise to many. He was 52 years old.
Former Sup. David Campos, a close friend of Turman, was shocked by the announcement of Turman’s death.
“I knew that Julius had been ill, but I have to say that I didn’t know the full extent,” Campos said in a Facebook post. “He probably should have left the Police Commission because of his illness a long time ago, but Julius being Julius, wanted to serve his City he loved until he physically couldn’t do it any longer.”
Turman began his role as President of the Commission in 2016, and resigned May 4, 2018.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott praised the work Turman did to improve relations between the police and the public through reforms Turman passed as Commission President.
For example, after it was announced that officers would be armed with Tasers later this year, Turman pushed for a policy that limited the use of these electroshock weapons. It was passed by the Commission earlier this year in a 6-1 vote.
“He worked to help us increase trust and respect and was relentlessly focused on bringing forth the best practices, policies, and procedures to the San Francisco Police Department,” Scott said. “We are grateful for his dedication and hard work, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family.”
Campos recalled Turman’s strong advocacy for a policy before tasers could be issued. The policy states that Tasers can only be used on a person if they are violently resisting an officer or are armed. It will also create a review board that investigates officers’ possible misuse of tasers.
Campos said, “He wanted reform to happen prior to the introduction of any new policing tool.”
Turman was integral in other reforms with the police department. The SFPD said that Turman helped the department institute recommendations by the U.S. Department Of Justice’s COPS Office.
He served on the Commission during its decision to implement the use of Body-Worn-Cameras, which will protect both the public and officers from misconduct through increasing transparency according to SFPD. The department’s use-of-force policy was also revised during Turman’s term.
After working with the Commission for several years, Turman reminisced about his role in the resignation letter released to the SF Examiner.
“Being on the Police Commission has been one of the most significant and important positions I have ever had the honor to serve on. I will forever be grateful.” Turman said.
Mayor Mike Farrell expressed his condolences and will have flags raised at half-mast at City Hall and S.F. Police Departments from sunrise to sunset Monday.
“Julius was a civic leader, proud defender of human rights and a fierce advocate for equality and justice,” Farrell said. “I am profoundly saddened by his passing.”
Turman also worked as the assistant U.S. Attorney from the District of New Jersey prior to joining the SF Police Commission in 2012.
The legacy of Turman will not be forgotten by those who cared about him. Campos said he was an intelligent man who was full of compassion and his influence will continue to affect the SFPD in the future.
Current Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco said, “In the weeks before his passing, he demonstrated strength and fortitude to ensure that the important work of the Police Commission would continue.”
In the meantime, Mazzucco, the Vice President of the Commission prior to Turman’s death, has been elected in his place. Still, the Police Commission is short one member after the resignation of Bill Ong Hing.
At least six applicants want to officially replace Turman and Hing’s seats. Although there are no endorsements yet to replace Turman, Hing strongly advocated the criminal defense attorney John Hamasaki as his replacement. Mayoral candidate London Breed also supported Hamasaki’s campaign for the Commission seat in the past, which he lost to Hing.
Hing, the only Commission member to reject the Taser policy Turman helped establish, resigned a month after the policy passed. Hamasaki and his main opponent for Hing’s seat, California Department of Insurance attorney Julie Soo, both disagreed with the Commission’s decision to pass the electroshock weapon policy.
The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee will review all applicants for the seat before they can vote on new commissioners.