SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — On Tuesday, San Francisco prosecutors dismissed all charges against a man who was accused of assaulting a group of plainclothes officers while being detained.
According to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, in the early morning hours on February 17, 2021, Sergio Lugo was walking around the Castro District when two plainclothes officers detained and questioned him.
Although Lugo had not committed a crime, the officers told him that they intended to search him, but instead, Lugo told officers he was going to walk away.
“We are disappointed but we also do expect nothing less from the district attorney,” said San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya. “We said it from early on, he has what I call a criminal first agenda where the rights and concerns of victims are an afterthought.”
Lawyers said in a press release that “without any verbal warning, the two officers grabbed his arm, kicked his legs out from under him, and pinned him on the ground.”
A third officer joined, who later admitted to hitting Lugo 15 to 25 times.
When the officers first encountered Lugo, he was holding a silver object in his hand, which police thought was a vape pen.
The object would end up being an X-Acto Knife, a small pen-shaped tool with a sharp edge often used in crafts.
All parties agree that when police pinned Lugo, the cap of the knife fell off.
In the end, the sharp edge caused superficial cuts to one officer’s pinkie and knee, but the officers’ blows to Lugo’s head sent him to the hospital with bruises, lacerations, and a fractured cheekbone.
“We carefully reviewed all the evidence in this case, including statements, surveillance, the fact that police officers were not wearing body worn cameras, inconsistencies in police officer statements, the fact that Mr. Lugo was behaving lawfully when stopped by police…, and it was clear that this was not a provable case.”San Francisco District Attonrey’s Office
Meanwhile in court, the defense presented evidence that contested the detention and eyewitness testimony from several neighbors.
Neighbors testified that they heard more than they could see, but what they observed caused two people to call the police.
“Their statements were consistent in that the three men on top were beating the man on the ground who was screaming in pain,” the public defender’s office said.
Lugo was charged with assault on an officer, exhibiting a deadly weapon to resist arrest, and three counts of resisting arrest using force — consequently, spending four months in jail.
As the case was getting ready to go to trial this week, the defense team argued that Lugo had committed no crime and the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case in light of the overwhelming evidence.
Deputy Public Defender Alexandra Pray, who represented Lugo, said “the police had no right to detain, search, initiate force, and escalate force against Mr. Lugo who committed no crime.”
“Police created this situation, and given the evidence, the prosecution finally did the right thing and dismissed these charges.”
A complaint has also been filed with the Department of Police Accountability on behalf of Lugo.
The SFPD officers who were involved in the incident were Sgt. Alexander Lentz, Lt. Kevin Healy, and officer Glennon Griffin.