Six officers accused this week by the Public Defender’s Office of conducting warrantless searches of residential hotel rooms are already falling victim to San Francisco’s political grindstone.
The officers’ former boss during the raids — three cases have been dismissed already — is not Chief George Gascón anymore but District Attorney George Gascón. Any criminal prosecution of the cops will come from his office unless he passes on the investigation to another agency such as the state Attorney General’s Office.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi has called on Gascón to do just that, but after meeting with Gascón this week, Adachi eased up on those demands, saying he was told that the district attorney would conduct an independent investigation.
But Adachi has an interest in seeing the cops prosecuted. What if Gascón has an interest in seeing them prosecuted as well?
As San Francisco politics go, a district attorney who is tough on problem cops is a shining star, and some insiders are saying that Gascón could ride the issue into the November election.
His opponent, David Onek, sent out a letter Thursday calling on an independent investigation because whatever happens with these six officers there will be a “clear conflict of interest” if Gascón makes the decision.
“Whatever decision Gascón now makes, he will highlight to the public his conflict of interest as the former police chief,” Onek wrote. “If he decides not to charge the officers, the public will question if he did so to protect his former officers or his former administration. If he decides to press charges, the officers themselves will ask if he is doing so because he is a candidate for office and feels the need to show a tough attitude towards his former department.”
The Police Department is holding a press conference this afternoon to update the status of the internal investigation.