SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – 51-year-old Willie Flanigan was sentenced today to the maximum term of 12 years and eight months for striking San Francisco bicycle officer Elia Lewin-Tankel on October 18, 2017.
Lewin-Tankel suffered severe permanent brain damage after being hit by Flanigan, who was fleeing police for a stolen vehicle, and remains in a medical care facility.
“[Flanigan’s] recklessness took a significant toll on an officer and his family,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “But the victim’s family and the entire SFPD came together to rally around Officer Lewin-Tankel in support of his recovery. We wish Officer Lewin-Tankel a full recovery, and our victim services division will continue to provide assistance throughout that process.”
According to court records, SFPD Sergeant Conway located a reported stolen SUV, which then speed off, going against traffic, driving through construction zones and accelerated to speeds over 40 miles per hour.
The car entered a parking garage, momentarily, before exiting again at a high rate of speed, striking Lewin-Tankel.
The chase was lost soon after, but officers were able to track down Flanigan and arrested him after he matched the description of the driver and was found with the keys to the SUV in his pocket.
The incident prompted an outpouring of support from SFPD.
“Elia is a loved and respected member of our station who has set an example for all through his engagement with Tenderloin residents,” said Tenderloin District Station Captain Carl Fabbri. “The verdict and sentencing in this case reflect the level of community support for our officers who are committed to protecting our neighborhoods despite the risks they face every day.
Flanigan was found guilty on July 11 of assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run, evading an officer, resisting an officer, unlawful driving, fleeing the scene of an accident, receiving stolen property and being an unlicensed driver.