SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — A jury found San Francisco Police Department Officer Terrance Stangel not guilty of using excessive force when he beat a man at Fisherman’s Wharf.
The jury acquitted Stangel on three charges, and deadlocked on a fourth charge.
The verdict marked the end of the city’s first trial against an on-duty officer over excessive force allegations.
Dacari Spiers was on a date with his girlfriend when officer Stangel beat him with a police baton in October of 2019.
Stangel and his partner, SFPD Officer Cuauhtemoc Martinez, approached the couple after receiving a 911 calls about a man choking and dragging a woman. The officers did not observe any evidence that an assault had in fact happened, according to prosecutors.
District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed felony charges against Stangel and said, “This case is an example of an officer unnecessarily escalating a situation and then violently beating a Black man whom he had no legal basis to even arrest.”
“Officers responding to a call have a duty to promote public safety — not to turn to violence as a show of authority,” Boudin said.
Police body camera footage captured some of the incident. Within seconds of arriving, the officers ordered Spiers to turn around, while ignoring questions by him and his girlfriend about what he had done.
Prosecutors said the officers ignored Spiers’s girlfriend, who was screaming, “No! What did he do?”
Stangel started beating Spiers with a baton, landing at least seven blows, prosecutors said. Spiers suffered a broken leg and wrist. He was never arrested.
For the trial, Stangel testified in self defense.
He said he was trying to protect his partner from a violent man after the interaction between Martinez and Spiers quickly turned into a melee.
Defense attorney Nicole Pifari said Stangel used necessary force to control a violent situation created by Spiers. Pifari said the case was politically motivated.
Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said, “We are pleased that this jury focused on the facts, evidence, and the law and was not distracted by other factors in reaching their not guilty verdicts.”
“Police work requires that our officers act quickly to ensure the safety of residents, businesses, and tourists, just as Officer Stangel was compelled to do in this incident,” McCray said.
“With this trial’s conclusion, we must stay focused on addressing San Francisco’s rising crime and drug epidemic so everyone can feel safe in their own neighborhoods,” McCray said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.