SF sheriff's deputy accused of beating up hospital patient 

click to enlarge S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo

A Sheriff's Department deputy has been charged in connection with the beating of a patient at San Francisco General Hospital, the District Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Deputy Michael Lewelling, 33, was arrested on suspicion of four felonies, including perjury, filing a false police report, filing a false instrument and assault, along with a misdemeanor count of battery, prosecutors said.

The arrest was made in connection with a Nov. 3 incident involving a patient at the hospital who walks with a cane.

Sheriff's Department officials said the arrest was made after an approximately six-week investigation by the department's Criminal Investigations Unit, which was formed this past May.

Lewelling filed a police report alleging that the victim attempted to assault him with a wooden cane, prosecutors said.

The victim was arrested on suspicion of felony and misdemeanor charges, and the case was presented to the district attorney's office Nov. 4, according to prosecutors.

However, District Attorney's Office officials said they declined to charge the case and asked for video evidence, which was presented Friday.

In the video, the victim, who was waiting for a doctor's appointment, can be seen sleeping in a chair in the hospital's emergency room waiting area, prosecutors said.

Lewelling approached the victim as he started to wake up and engaged in a conversation, at which point the victim slowly stood up, using a cane for assistance, prosecutors said.

He attempted to walk toward the exit, but Lewelling grabbed the back of his collar, pulling him back into his seat and knocking his cane away. He then grabbed the victim's throat and choked him, before placing the victim under arrest.

Prosecutors said the victim, who was released shortly after his arrest, never raised his cane in a threatening manner.

Bail was set at $138,000. An initial court appearance date was not set.

District Attorney George Gascón issued a statement saying that it was "unnerving" that a sheriff's deputy allegedly battered a patient.

"What's worse is that he's also alleged to have perjured himself on a police report, unforgivable conduct that led to the arrest of the innocent victim," Gascón said in the statement.

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