San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin is adhering to his vow of seeking equal justice for all regardless of their job title.
Law enforcement is being given the same treatment as would any citizen who commits a criminal act. Wearing a badge does not sanction unlawful conduct.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 12.14.2020
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed felony battery and assault charges Monday against a police officer he said unneccesarily and violently beat a Black man in Fisherman’s Wharf last year.
“Growing up in the 1970s in San Francisco seeing police commit violence on Black men and never being held accountable made me feel like being Black meant we were less than,” said Gloria Berry, Chair of the Black Lives Matter San Francisco County Central Committee and member of the DA’s Office’s African American Advisory Board.
“Today I have tears in my eyes to hear that under the Office of the San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, officers are being charged, history is being made, and Black people are finally being seen.”
Terrance Stangel is the third current or former SFPD officer that Boudin has criminally charged in a use-of-force case in the past month as part of his campaign to hold police accountable for wrongdoing. A judge on Monday signed a warrant for the police officer’s arrest.
“Officers responding to a call have a duty to promote public safety — not to turn to violence as a show of authority,” Boudin said in a statement. “This case is an example of an officer unnecessarily escalating a situation and then violently beating a Black man whom he had no legal basis to even arrest.”
According to the DA, victim Dacari Spiers was on a date with his girlfriend at Fisherman’s Wharf on the evening of October 7, 2019, when officers Stangel and Cuahtemoc Martinez responded to a 911 call of a man assaulting a woman.
Prosecutors said the officers were directed to Spiers and his girlfriend, “who were standing close to each other and talking.” Police did not witness any physical violence or unlawful conduct between the two, the DA’s office said.
Much of the incident was captured on police body cameras, prosecutors said, which show police ordering Spiers to turn around without responding to his and his girlfriend’s questions about what he had done.
“Officer Martinez immediately tried to grab Mr. Spiers, who insisted he had not done anything, and officers ignored Mr. Spiers’s girlfriend, who was screaming, ‘No!’ and ‘What did he do?’” officials from the DA’s office stated.
Prosecutors said Stangel struck Spiers from behind with a baton, and struck his legs again multiple times after Martinez took Spiers to the ground. Martinez did not strike Spiers and was not criminally charged.
Stangel was charged with four felonies: battery with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with force likely to cause great bodily — with an allegation that he did in fact cause great bodily injury — and assault under the color of authority.
In a statement, San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya accused Boudin of “headline chasing.”
The charges come after Spiers filed a civil lawsuit claiming excessive use of force and police misconduct against the city. The case is pending in federal court, and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office has denied nearly every allegation listed in the complaint.
“This officer is going to murder an innocent person if he’s not taken off the street,” said Curtis Briggs, an attorney for Spiers. “It’s very important to prosecute him.”
Spiers estimated he was struck between 10 to 15 times with a baton, including at least once when he was handcuffed, the suit said. Officers additionally kicked and hit him and threw him to the ground without out explanation, according to Spiers’ attorneys.
The incident resulted in a broken leg and wrist — both of which required surgery — and a laceration on his leg that required stitches, the suit states.
The case is being prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office’s Independent Investigation Bureau, which investigates police shootings and other serious use-of-force incidents. Prosecutors said they will not request Stangel be detained during pretrial proceedings.