Lee Heidhues 4.18.2022
Sad to say but all the alleged Police Reforms notwithstanding, the attitude of SFPD, and law enforcement in general, is grab ’em and lock ’em up. Probable cause, facts and truth are irrelevant.
Reading the article carefully the Reader will learn this SFPD misconduct was the second egregious act by the same SFPD homicide inspectors. Their misconduct resulted in an innocent person being imprisoned for 18 years and cost the City Millions when the SFPD was found culpable.
This is yet another example of why San Francisco needs a District Attorney who looks after the Rights of all People. The Chronicle should not have added the words “He insists” in the Headline. “He spent 30 years in prison for a murder he insists he didn’t commit”. He would not be freed after 30 years in prison, the result of blatant SFPD misconduct, solely based on protestations of innocence.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 4.18.2022
Joaquin Ciria was arrested in 1990 for a murder in San Francisco that he insists he didn’t commit.
“Our office is proud of and grateful for the work of the Innocence Commission in rectifying the wrongful conviction of Mr. Ciria,” San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said in an emailed statement. “Although we cannot give him back the decades of his life lost we are grateful that the court has corrected this miscarriage of justice.”
The original San Francisco Police Department investigation was led by retired officers including Art Gerrans and Jim Crowley. Gerrans and Crowley were also involved in the 1991 wrongful conviction of Maurice Caldwell, who sued the city after serving 20 years and won $8 million in 2021.
On Monday, 32 years later, Superior Court Judge Brendan Conroy overturned the conviction and granted a new trial after a request from San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Boudin was following a recommendation made by his Innocence Commission. A prosecutor said in court that the DA’s office would dismiss the case against Ciria, clearing the way for him to go free.
“It feels good,” said the 32-year-old, who was six weeks old when his father was arrested.
Ciria, 61, counts as the first person exonerated by the commission, a unique model that Boudin has sought to advance with state legislation at a time when most conviction review units nationwide have shown no results.
Monday’s ruling makes San Francisco’s only the second DA’s office in the Bay Area to help exonerate someone with their version of a conviction review unit, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Santa Clara County’s unit has been involved in five overturned convictions dating back to 2011.
Though Boudin followed the commission’s recommendation, he has final authority on what to do.
The commission’s decision was largely owed to a man who came forward to say he witnessed the murder and recognized the killer as a different man.
Roberto Socorro swore in a declaration that he saw and heard the killer, a man he knew, but didn’t come forward for two reasons. First he didn’t believe in cooperating with the police. Second, because he was a close friend of the victim, Socorro said he made a vow to find the man himself and take revenge.
But Socorro’s conscience found him before he could find the man.
“I am deeply ashamed of my selfish decision to remain silent all these years,” Socorro wrote in his declaration.
Top photo – Joaquin Ciria in 1989