Man acquitted in SFPD mistaken identity case
By Ananda Shorey
July 17, 2007
A man who was repeatedly kneed in the eye by a police officer
who mistakenly thought he was a parolee on the run is considering
filing charges against the San Francisco Police Department, a
spokeswoman for the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender
Three plainclothes officers approached John Gibson, 39, on Feb.
7 while he was sitting near Market and Seventh streets. Gibson
saw the men approaching and believed he was going to be attacked,
according to the Office of the Public Defender.
Gibson resisted when the officers - Eric Perez, Oscar Barcena
and Benjamin Pagtanac - grabbed him by his arms.
In response to Gibson's defensive actions, one officer repeatedly
kneed him in the eye causing bruising and swelling.
After arresting Gibson and realizing he was the wrong man, the
officers charged him with battery on two officers and resisting
Gibson spent two nights in jail and the San Francisco district
attorney subsequently filed charges. A jury acquitted Gibson on
nine counts of battery July 6.
The officers said they repeatedly identified themselves as police
and displayed their badges.
On the stand, the officers testified that Gibson was injured
during the arrest, but were unable to give a consistent explanation
as to how he received his injuries.
"Their story didn't hold much water," Office of the
Public Defender spokeswoman Lea Villegas said.
Gibson said he didn't know officers were approaching him and
claimed they drove up Market Street in an unmarked vehicle and
never identified themselves.
Gibson's attorney, Peter Santina, provided evidence that included
enlarged photos of his client's eye injuries and photos of a crew-cut
parolee who police believed that the longhaired Gibson resembled.
"Mr. Gibson was not only the victim of mistaken identity
by the police but was also a victim of their brutality,"
Santina said in a prepared statement.
Officials with the San Francisco Police Department were not immediately
available for comment.
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