Public defender Jeff Adachi claims another illegal search by San Francisco police 

Defense attorneys unveiled new claims Wednesday of an illegal police search, perjury by officers and excessive force stemming from a drug arrest by undercover cops at a Tenderloin residential hotel in December.

The new allegations are the latest in what Public Defender Jeff Adachi called "disturbing questions about what is happening in the San Francisco Police Department."

Adachi said video surveillance footage his office received from the Jefferson Hotel at 440 Eddy St. showed a Dec. 30, 2010, drug arrest in which undercover officers from Mission Station arrested their client, 48-year-old Fernando Santana, for felony possession of crack cocaine for sale.

The police report, provided by Adachi’s office to reporters, said officers saw Santana allegedly sell drugs to another man outside the hotel, and followed him inside, where they said they saw baggies of crack in his hands and arrested him.

Santana’s attorney said the video only showed Santana with his hands in his pockets.

Defense attorneys also maintained that contrary to the police report, Santana did not consent to officers searching his room at the hotel, following his arrest.

In his room, officers said they found 1.8 grams of crack cocaine, a baggie of marijuana, a digital scale and packaging material.

The video also shows officers physically detaining one of Santana’s neighbors who poked his head in the door of Santana’s room during the search. The video shows one of the officers forcibly grabbing the man around the head in what Adachi’s office called a "choke hold."

Adachi further alleged that the video showed one officer carrying Santana’s duffel bag out of the room. Santana said he found many of his belongings missing after the raid.

"I’ve been through the wringer," Santana said. "I’ve spent three months accusing the staff at my building for stealing my property, and it wasn’t them."

A judge dismissed Santana’s case at a preliminary hearing last week. According to Adachi’s office, one of the officers in the arrest failed to show up for the hearing when called to testify.

Neither police nor the District Attorney’s Office were immediately able to respond specifically to the claims, detailed at a news conference by Adachi, but said they are reviewing the information his office provided to them.

Police Sgt. Mike Andraychak said new Chief Greg Suhr had spoken with Adachi and subsequently initiated an internal investigation into the incident.

"He’s asked Internal Affairs to give this high priority," Andraychak said.

Andraychak said the officers remain on their current assignments as the investigation proceeds.

In March, the Police Department placed eight other undercover officers at Southern Police Station on desk duty during an investigation into allegations of illegal searches and falsified police reports, connected to drug arrests at other residential hotels in The City.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

Examiner Staff Writer Mike Aldax contributed to this report.

 


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