Thursday, November 3, 2011

Public Defender Alleges Cops Stole From Child's Piggy Bank, Used Excessive Force (VIDEO)

Posted By on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 5:54 PM

click to enlarge Charles Tran (at podium) alleges excessive force by SFPD at today's press conference
  • Charles Tran (at podium) alleges excessive force by SFPD at today's press conference

Update 5 p.m.: SFPD department spokesman Sgt. Michael Andraychak says Chief Suhr will forward the theft allegations onto the FBI, which is investigating previous criminal misconduct allegations brought forward by Public Defender Jeff Adachi last spring. The SFPD internal affairs department continues with an administrative investigation of potential policy violations. Andraychak reiterated, "There's no place in the SFPD for dishonest cops." Meanwhile, Andraychak says some of the officers "on the periphery" of the past episodes have been put back on active duty, while others remain on administrative jobs in civilian attire.
Andraychak defends the officers' actions in detaining Charles Tran. "It did appear he had a fighting stance and leaned in. We're not required to wait until someone hits us to protect ourselves." The police report says the officers responding to the scene of a fight were informed Tran had a box-cutter: "That's what the officers would have had in mind when they arrived on the scene."

Original story: Less than a week away from Election Day, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is running for mayor, alleged San Francisco Police Department officers stole evidence totaling thousands of dollars during searches, including $500 from a child's piggy bank.

He also released surveillance tape that indicates police lied about the behavior of a Richmond District merchant before officers detained him. SFPD spokespeople have not yet responded to SF Weekly's requests for comment. 

The victims have filed complaints about the alleged incidents with the Office of Citizen Complaints, the civilian body that investigates police misconduct. The theft allegations include cops taking thousands of dollars and a Nokia Internet Tablet during vehicle and home searches -- all of which was never booked into evidence nor returned to the owners, Adachi said. 

The theft allegations involve five officers from Mission Station who are already under internal SFPD and FBI investigation for similar behavior that were caught on surveillance tapes that Adachi released last spring. Today, Adachi called for a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to lying on police reports, and an investigation of the new instances of alleged misconduct. 

The mayoral candidate shrugged off the suggestion that the timing of the announcement coincides with the election. "I'm a public defender. I have an obligation to protect the public. I did consider delaying it until after the election, but after meeting with the individuals they expressed they wanted to move forward." 

According to a police report written by Richmond District Officer Kevin Ison released at the press conference, officers were responding to a call on August 11 about a possible fight at Fifth Avenue and Clement Street between Charles Tran, who owned a supermarket there, and a male who'd apparently delivered the wrong produce. The report states: "I observed Tran become aggressive and take a fighting stances towards Officer Filamor. I also noticed Tran, ball up his right fist while Ofc. Filamor was attempting to speak to him." 

But in the surveillance footage Adachi played, the 44-year-old Tran didn't look like a physical threat; he looked frustrated and like a man trying to explain his side. He never balls his fist, but raises an open flat hand to waist level like a politician making a point. At that moment, Officer Joseph Filamor slaps the hand out of the way and then pushes Tran to the wall and cuffs him.

The theft allegations came to the public defender's attention through criminal cases involving his clients. But Adachi says Tran came to his office independently after being

detained outside his store with allegedly excessive force.


Here are the public defender's descriptions of the five alleged thefts:

  • Rick Short, who alleges that officers stole $10,000 in cash from a safe in is bedroom during the execution of a search warrant on Apr. 30, 2011. Short's case has been dismissed. His story is corroborated by witnesses. Officers involved in his case are Michael Wibunsin, Peter Richardson, Ricardo Guerrero, Robert Sanchez, and Jacob Fegan. 

  • Joe Melvin, who was not charged with a crime, alleges officers stole $300 and a Nokia Internet Tablet while he was detained during a search of his apartment in 2011. Melvin's roommate was the subject of the search warrant. Officers involved in the search were Jacob Fegan, Ricardo Guerrero, Peter Richardson, Robert Sanchez, Kevin Healy, Jeffrey Cuenca, and John Cvetovac. 

  • Stanton, whose $650 in cash disappeared after police conducted on Aug. 4, 2010 raid on his roommate. Stanton was never charged in connection with the raid. His story is corroborated by witnesses. Officers involved in the search were Jacob Fegan, Ricardo Guerrero, Peter Richardson, Robert Sanchez, Kevin Healy, Britt Elmore, Reynaldo Vargas, David Sands, Robert Greiner, Matthew Kenney, John Cathey, Eileen Cooper, Michael Moody, Joseph Emanuel, Luis Oliva, Mario Molina, and Kenneth Esposto. 

  • Robert Karganilla, who claims police stole his Canon Powershot camera during a May 12, 2010 routine traffic stop. The Office of Citizen Complaints sustained his claim that police failed to book the camera into evidence. His camera has not been returned and he has not been compensated for his loss. 
Adachi is asking anyone with stories of SFPD misconduct to call his office at 575-8808. 

Best unscripted moment of the press conference: While a public defender rolled the tape of Tran's detainment, another one of the victims present at the press conference said: "What a punk! You call yourself a cop?"

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Lauren Smiley


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.