SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – An investigative agreement between the San Francisco Police Department and the city’s District Attorney’s Office will remain in effect for the next 60 days as talks between the two departments continue, city officials said on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Police Chief Scott moved to end the memorandum of understanding, which allows the District Attorney’s Office to conduct independent criminal investigations during police use-of-force incidents.
Scott announced his decision to terminate the MOU following testimony by a district attorney’s office investigator in the ongoing criminal case against an officer accused of brutally beating a man with a baton in 2019. In the Jan. 27 testimony, the investigator said under oath that she felt pressured by attorneys within the district attorney’s office to mislead police and withhold evidence from a sworn affidavit out of fear of losing her job.
Scott has defended his position, alleging that an ongoing pattern of noncompliance with the agreement’s terms by the district attorney’s office has damaged confidence among his officers. Meanwhile, District Attorney Chesa Boudin has denied any wrongdoing on behalf of his office.
Since last week, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Mayor London Breed, and City Attorney David Chiu have been helping facilitate talks between Scott and Boudin to see if the agreement can be renegotiated. According to Bonta, Breed, and Chiu, the current MOU will be extended and remain in effect through May 20. During that time, both Boudin and Scott will meet with an independent mediator, such as a retired judge, who will review and resolve ongoing issues.
“I welcome these renewed efforts and commitments to ensure there is a process in place in San Francisco that helps build and maintain trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Today’s announcement is an important step forward for public safety, consistency for officers, and all San Franciscans,” Bonta said in a statement.
Breed said, “This extension represents another positive step towards ensuring that we have independent oversight in police use-of-force cases while maintaining a transparent and fair process for those being investigated.”
“While there is much work ahead, this extension gives us time to address outstanding issues and come together for the good of all San Franciscans,” Chiu said.
“We remain committed to the independent investigation of officer use-of-force incidents and are optimistic about our ongoing discussions on revising the MOU,” Boudin said. “The extension is a commonsense approach to give us the necessary time to solidify this critical agreement.”
Scott said, “We are grateful to Attorney General Bonta and his team; Mayor Breed and her team; and City Attorney Chiu and his team for their efforts to bring SFPD and the SFDA’s office together to reach this interim agreement and put us on track toward an MOU that all San Franciscans can have confidence in.”
The Police Commission, which has criticized Scott for terminating the MOU without their approval, has canceled their Wednesday evening meeting in light of the extension.
In the ongoing criminal case at the center of it all, Officer Terrance Stangel is facing battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault likely to cause great bodily injury, and assault under color of authority charges for an October 2019 encounter with Dacari Spiers.
The encounter left Spiers — a Black man who was unarmed — with a broken leg and wrist, as well as lacerations to his leg.
Stangel, who is the first on-duty officer in the city’s history to be tried in court for such crimes, remains on trial this week.
In a separate civil case, the city earlier this month awarded Spiers $700,000 to settle the matter.
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