San Francisco, CA – The chief of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) said his department won’t work with the district attorney’s office on criminal investigations of police officers anymore after a whistleblower revealed prosecutors had been withholding evidence in a use-of-force case against an officer.
Magen Hayashi, a criminal investigator for San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office, testified on Jan. 27 that she had been ordered to withhold exculpatory evidence in order to convict an officer of excessive force, FOX News reported.
Hayashi told the judge she was led to believe she would lose her job if she refused to do what they told her to do in the excessive force case against San Francisco Police Officer Terrance Stangel.
The officer is facing excessive force charges in connection with an incident that 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.
Hayashi testified before a San Francisco Superior Court judge that there was a female witness who had claimed she saw Spiers beating a woman right before the officer hit him, KNTV reported.
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, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Hayashi also claimed she was forced to sign affidavits.
“It was a general understanding in my experience in this office, if you don’t sign these things you’ll be fired,” she told the judge.
Officer Stangel’s attorney, Nicole Pifari, filed a motion to dismiss the charges against her client on Jan. 24 and cited “prosecutorial misconduct” and “deceptive” methods by Boudin’s office, FOX News reported.
“The DA’s deceit and concealment of real evidence is disturbing, it is corrupt, and it is a violation of public trust. Most importantly, however, it is illegal,” the motion read.
It turned out the witness the prosecution had withheld was the same woman who had called 911 to report that Spiers was beating a woman that night, FOX News reported.
Pifari also included a transcript of the witness’s 911 call in her memo of support for the motion to dismiss.
“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 also claimed there was a second witness who gave police a statement with the same story with similar details, FOX News reported.
Following the revelations by the whistleblower, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott sent a letter to the district attorney on Wednesday that addressed the allegations against Boudin’s office, FOX News reported.
“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 D.A.’s Office who was assigned as an investigator to your Independent Investigations Bureau at the time of the incident in question,” Chief Scott wrote.
“Other evidence that was brought forward to the court corroborated the D.A. Investigator’s testimony as it related to violations of the (Memo Of Understanding) agreement,” the letter continued. “It appears that the D.A.’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.”
The MOU at issue was created in 2019 and gave the district attorney’s office the lead role in criminal investigations of SFPD officers, FOX News reported.
The mutual agreement between SFPD and the district attorney’s office was renewed in 2021 for another two years.
Chief Scott wrote in the letter that he had already reached out to California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office for guidance on formally terminating the agreement, FOX News reported.
A spokesman for Boudin’s office tried to point the blame back at the police department and called Chief Scott’s termination of the MOU “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.”
Chief Scott and Boudin have butted heads in the past after the famously anti-cop and anti-incarceration district attorney refused to pursue charges against a suspect who injured two officers when he lunged at them with a knife, FOX News reported.
The police chief has also complained about Boudin’s reform policies that put almost all but the most violent of criminals back on San Francisco’s streets.
“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,” Chief Scott said last week. “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,” the police chief continued. “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.”