Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Authorities launch probe in connection
with man's death following SFPD arrest

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

January 20, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Authorities have launched a multi-departmental investigation into
how a 45-year-old man died Thursday while being detained by two San Francisco
police officers.

According to police, Herbert Tyrone Watt died after he choked on a golf-ball sized bag of crack cocaine. Witnesses including Watt's girlfriend, however, are disputing the department's version of events.

The incident began around 4 p.m. Thursday when officers pulled over a red car at the intersection of Ralston and Randolph streets in the city's Ingleside Heights neighborhood.

The traffic stop was initiated because his red car had only paper license plates, according to police Sgt. Steve Mannina.

Officers searched him, found a bag of crack cocaine, and put it on the patrol car, Mannina said. Watt then began to struggle with the officers and he grabbed the bag and shoved it in his mouth, according to Mannina.

Officers attempted to dislodge the bag of crack cocaine from the man's throat by smacking the man on the back but the emergency maneuver failed.

A nearby resident, who disputes the police account, taped much of the incident with an audiocassette recorder. It begins just before Watt begins to struggle with police.

One of the unidentified officers yelled, "Stop fighting," and a woman's voice comes in next. "What did he do?" she said.

The tape continued with the officers asking, "You got anything in your mouth?" and finally, "You've got a whole lot of crack, and if you put it in your mouth, you're not going to live."

The woman's voice on the tape was that of Watt's girlfriend. She was in the passenger seat of the car when the incident took place and disputes the police claim that Watt, a parolee, was carrying drugs.

A lawyer for the girlfriend, San Jose-based attorney Doug Allen, said he is researching the case for any signs of foul play.

Richard Stypmann, the man who taped the exchange, also took pictures of the incident. One photo shows an officer straddling Watt as he lay face down on the pavement. Other pictures show medical workers assisting Watt.

Stypmann said the officers punched Watt repeatedly in the chest, which caused him to die. Mannina, however, said the officers were just trying to save the man's life by performing CPR.

He was taken to Seton Medical Center in Daly City where he was pronounced dead. Since the hospital is in San Mateo County, investigators will be waiting on the coroner in that county to release a report.

The police homicide division, the department's internal affairs division, the district attorney's office and the Office of Citizen Complaints are all expected to conduct investigations into the matter.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa