San Francisco Police Commission subpoenas Andrew
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
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
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.
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