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SFPD Chief Ends Agreement With DA Chesa Boudin's Office In Use Of Force Cases

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – Police Chief Bill Scott announced Wednesday that the San Francisco Police Department will terminate a memorandum of understanding with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office over allegations prosecutors hid evidence in a criminal case involving an officer accused of brutally beating a Black man.

Back in July 2021, SFPD and the District Attorney's Office signed an MOU agreeing the District Attorney would independently investigate all officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and use of force incidents resulting in serious bodily injury.

The termination comes after the District Attorney's Office Criminal Investigator Magen Hayashi testified last week in a criminal case that under pressure from prosecutors, she misled police investigators and withheld evidence from a sworn affidavit.

In the case, Officer Terrance Stangel has been charged with battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and assault under color of authority in connection with an Oct. 2019 encounter with Dacari Spiers in the city's Fisherman's Wharf area. Stangel and another officer initially responded to a report of a man choking a woman, and once at the scene, a struggle ensued between Spiers and the officers, resulting in Stangel allegedly striking Spiers' legs with a baton several times.

As a result, Spiers suffered a broken leg and wrist, as well as lacerations to his leg.

According to police, Hayashi, who works at the D.A.'s Office of Independent Investigations Bureau, testified in during a Jan. 27 superior court hearing, the "understanding that I had in our unit was that our investigative steps, meaning the investigators, was not a two-way street with the police department and that we -- they were to give us information, but we would not provide that back to them."

She also testified that when police investigators would call and ask for information, "there were different attorneys that said the same thing, that would say, 'Tell them we don't know. We don't have any plans,' or 'no comment,' something to the effect."

In a letter Scott sent to District Attorney Chesa Boudin on Wednesday explaining the MOU's termination, Scott said he had "very serious concerns" regarding Hayashi's testimony.

Scott added, "It appears that the DA's Office has an ongoing practice of investigations against SFPD officers that includes withholding and concealing information and evidence the SFPD is entitled to have to further ancillary criminal investigations in accordance with the MOU."

In response, San Francisco District Attorney's Office spokesperson Rachel Marshall said since the MOU went into effect, "our office has made enormous progress in reducing police violence."

"It is disappointing but no coincidence SFPD chose to withdraw from this agreement during the first ever trial against an on-duty San Francisco police officer for an unlawful beating," she said. "San Franciscans deserve to be safe -- including from unwarranted police violence."

The criminal trial against Stangel began this week.

In a separate federal case, Spiers has sued the city, alleging civil rights violation and assault. City attorneys have recommended the city settle that suit for $700,000.

The city's Board of Supervisors was set to approve the settlement on Tuesday, however, in light of Hayashi's testimony in the criminal case, Supervisor Catherine Stefani requested a closed session meeting with the City Attorney's Office and to continue the matter for next week's board meeting.

"The conduct of the DA's Office in this case may rise to the level of criminal conduct, including obstruction of justice and perjury," Stefani said.

© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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