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San Francisco Police Commission subpoenas Andrew Cohen

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

May 31, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Investigators need one more piece of evidence before wrapping up an internal probe into the creation of a series of controversial video clips, Capt. Charles Keohane told the San Francisco Police Commission tonight, and all they need is permission.

The commission agreed, as four members unanimously voted to subpoena the information on a department computer allegedly used by Officer Andrew Cohen to create and disseminate the videos that eventually led police Chief Heather Fong to suspend 24 officers just weeks before Christmas. Keohane said the department has already prepared 900 pages of the report -- the fruition of almost five months of work. Six investigators were involved in more than 75 primary interviews and several more second interviews.

One investigator is still needed to mine the hard drive of an Apple Macintosh confiscated from the Bayview station in December. An unidentified officer at the station had objected to its use as evidence, but the commission did not agree.

The investigation has been active since the video's release. Cohen has repeatedly apologized publicly through his attorneys to the suspended officers and their families for producing the videos.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom made the videos public Dec. 7 during a news conference in which he referred to the skits as racist, sexist and homophobic. The videos include footage of officers visiting massage parlors, running over people in their cars and ignoring their radios.

All 24 Bayview station officers have since been reinstated to mostly administrative positions, but their return is conditional upon the departmental investigation, which could lead to further reprisal or full exoneration.

According to Kevin Allen, director of the San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints, at least one formal complaint was filed in early January concerning the video controversy. Any complaints filed, however, will not be made public until they are presented to the police commission, and that will not happen until the department has wrapped up its own internal investigation.

Many hope that with the subpoenaed evidence within the computer's hard drive available now to investigators, that report will soon be released.

Also at tonight's meeting, the commission voted to award a posthumous citizen's commendation to Marlin Coats, the man who drowned at Ocean Beach May 13 as he was rescuing two boys who were caught in a rip current. The two brothers, 11 and 14 years old, survived the ordeal with only minor cases of hypothermia, but Coats, who was also caught in the rip current, died shortly afterward.

While Commissioner Joe Veronese, who brought the item before the commission, was not present at tonight's meeting, the motion was accepted enthusiastically. A date was not formally set, but the commission will most likely give the award after June 14.

Commissioners Petra DeJesus, David Campos and Dr. Joe Marshall, as well as Vice President Theresa Sparks and President Louise Renne were present at tonight's meeting at City Hall. DeJesus excused herself from the Andrew Cohen subpoena vote.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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