San Francisco prosecutors dropped 34 felony cases this week — one involving a gun charge — because of “credibility problems” with Mission Station officers involved with those busts, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Friday.
At least five San Francisco police officers are under investigation after Public Defender Jeff Adachi alleged that some officers stole items such as a laptop, a camera and a bottle of tequila from people they busted for drugs. Those allegations are backed up by video footage released to the public.
Adachi released another video Friday, taken from the San Francisco Police Department’s own crime camera footage, that raises more questions about the Mission Station officers. Also, a husband and wife went before reporters to tell a story about how the same officers allegedly broke down a locked door in their home and took valuables such as two iPods, a camera and a cell phone.
That couple, Javier and Mariette Tenorio, said Sgt. Kevin Healy and officers Robert Sanchez, Ricardo Guerrero, Jacob Fegan and Peter Richardson entered their home on Aug. 19. Healy told the couple he wanted to search the room of their son, Harvey Salazar.
The Tenorios noticed the missing items after police had left, they said. In February, they filed a complaint with the Office of Citizen Complaints. In March, police arrested Salazar on drug charges they say stemmed from the August search.
Dressed in jail-issued orange jail clothes, Salazar smiled as the judge told him he would be free to go.
Another man, Rick Short, 57, attended the court hearing to hear that his drug case, which he said involved narcotics and several pounds of marijuana, would also be dismissed.
“I’m not an angel, but this seemed wrong from the beginning,” Short said. “I feel wonderful. My prayers have been answered.”
Gascón saw the new video Thursday and responded with a press conference Friday morning announcing that a total of 34 cases would be dismissed this week and that he expects several more cases to be dropped in the future. The officers were “very active” in plainclothes drug operations, Gascón said.
Dozens of cases have already been dismissed in relation to videos that show Southern Station officers allegedly conducting warrantless searches on occupants in residential hotel rooms. The total number of cases dropped involving eight officers from Southern Station and at least five from Mission Station is 119.
“We are very aggressively looking at these things,” Gascón said. “We will not knowingly allow a case to be prosecuted with evidence that isn’t there.”
The San Francisco Police Department issued a statement in response to the case cautioning that the officers accused of misconduct should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
“If it is determined through the investigation that any officer is proven to be dishonest, in any way, they will be disciplined,” the statement said. “This discipline will be swift and severe up to and including termination from the Police Department.”