San Francisco, CA – A jury on Monday found San Francisco Police Officer Terrance Stangel not guilty of excessive force after a month-long trial that was fraught with allegations of unethical conduct by the prosecutor’s office.
Officer Stangel was charged with battery with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and assault under the color of authority in connection with the domestic violence arrest of Dacari Spiers in 2019, KTVU reported.
A San Francisco jury acquitted Officer Stangel on three of the four counts on March 7.
The jury deadlocked on the last count, and the judge declared a mistrial on it, according to KTVU.
It wasn’t known if prosecutors intended to refile charges on the assault under color of authority charge.
Officer Stangel was the first San Francisco police officer to be prosecuted for excessive force committed in the line of duty, KTVU reported.
“For the DA to turn around and focus all these types of resources on prosecuting a peace officer who was out there trying to help the public is a travesty, and it’s dangerous for public safety in San Francisco,” Stangel’s defense attorney, Nicole Pifari, told reporters after the verdict.
Prosecutors tried to claim that race was a factor during the trial, KTVU reported.
“It’s common knowledge that large black powerful men are associated with menace,” San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Young told the jury during closing arguments.
Pifari called the case a “political prosecution” of Officer Stangel and called the prosecutors “liars,” according to KTVU.
“They’re putting him through a criminal trial for being a human being and facing a dangerous and violent situation on behalf of his community,” the defense attorney argued.
The incident occurred in October of 2019 when Officer Stangel was responding to a domestic violence call, KNTV reported.
Prosecutors have alleged that the officer beat Dacari Spiers with his baton unnecessarily and broke the suspect’s wrist and leg, FOX News reported.
In January, Magen Hayashi, a criminal investigator for Boudin’s office, testified that she had been ordered to withhold evidence from the defense by other attorneys in the district attorney’s office, KNTV reported.
Hayashi testified before a San Francisco Superior Court judge on Jan. 27 that there was a female witness who had claimed she saw Spiers beating a woman right before the officer hit him.
The whistleblower told the judge she hadn’t disclosed that witness’s statement because she was made to believe she would be fired for doing so.
It turned out the witness the prosecution withheld was the same woman who had called 911 to report that Spiers was beating a woman that night, FOX News reported.
“I would like to report… I think it’s called domestic violence or something because, um, there’s this guy who is beating up on this girl… He’s like, um, holding her like by the neck, like draggin’ her by the neck… She was trying to get away, then he grabbed, and then he got her again,” the woman told the 911 call taker.
Pifari filed a motion to dismiss that cited “prosecutorial misconduct” and “deceptive” methods by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office, FOX News reported.
But the judge ultimately allowed the trial to go forward.
“We are pleased that this jury focused on the facts, evidence, and the law and was not distracted by other factors in reaching their not guilty verdicts,” San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tracy McCray told KRON.
“Police work requires that our officers act quickly to ensure the safety of residents, businesses, and tourists, just as Officer Stangel was compelled to do in this incident,” McCray said. “With this trial’s conclusion, we must stay focused on addressing San Francisco’s rising crime and drug epidemic so everyone can feel safe in their own neighborhoods.”