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San Francisco Police Commission denies disciplinary exclusion in fajitagate case

Photo/illustration courtesy sfist.com

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

August 4, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The San Francisco Police Commission denied a motion Thursday evening to exclude Lt. Henry Parra from a disciplinary hearing regarding the famed "fajitagate'' incident set to begin this fall.

James A. Lassart, an attorney for Parra, stood in front of all five commissioners and argued his client was never made aware of how serious the punishment would be if he were found to be neglectful of his duty.

But an attorney with the Office of Citizen Complaints said that Parra's complaint had no warrant and the same argument had already been denied almost a year before by the commission.

Commissioner David Campos summed up the Office of Citizen Complaints argument by saying Parra's attorney was, "essentially taking a second bite at the apple.''

The rest of the commission agreed and after a closed session of less than 15 minutes, they announced that Parra's request was unanimously denied.

Parra, along with Capt. Gregory Corrales, Lt. Ed Cota, Sgt. John Syme, Inspector Paul Falconer and Officers Dan Miller and Gene Corwin, is charged with "neglect of duty,'' in connection with a Nov. 2002 Union Street brawl involving three off-duty officers.

A civil court awarded $46,000 total to the two complainants who claimed they were accosted by Alex Fagan Jr., Matthew Tonsing and David Lee -- who were all off-duty officers at the time -- over a bag of fajitas.

The other officers are all allegedly involved with a cover up that occurred later. Hearings in front of the police commission are tentatively scheduled for the middle of September.

Also at Thursday night's meeting, the commission reviewed two new pieces of legislation set to be brought before the Board of Supervisors within the next few weeks.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, the author of a bill designed to redraw district lines every 10 years, and another plan to increase foot patrols in high-crime areas, presented the legislation.

The more "complex'' and "difficult'' bill was a call to bring back beat patrols in the city, according to Mirkarimi, who said it was a "tried and true'' method of bridging the communication gap between community members and police.

Police Chief Heather Fong agreed but said that the department currently did not have enough staff and taking an officer from a patrol car would only lengthen response times. Commission President Louise Renne said for a plan like this to work, and indeed for any long-term solution to work, everybody involved from the mayor's office to the Board of Supervisors to the police department would need to pull together and go in the same direction.

The second piece of legislation, the mandatory redistricting of police districts, met with little resistance. The commission did suggest the public have more input in the beginning of the process, that the Board consider population and demographic shifts, and that there be some flexibility in the timeframe.

Both pieces of legislation were unanimously sent to the Board of Supervisors.

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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