SF MAN MISIDENTIFIED AS VIOLENT COP SPEAKS OUT
Jack Neeley, mistakenly identified as SFPD Officer John Haggett.
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
February 7, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A case of mistaken identity has
turned a San Francisco man's life upside down since he was wrongly
identified in a San Francisco Chronicle photo caption as a police
officer allegedly notorious for using excessive force.
A large image of Jack Neeley, Jr., 42, a cab driver with Black
& White Checker Cabs and a security guard at the Ramada Plaza
hotel on Market Street, mistakenly appeared in an article about
Sgt. John Haggett in The Chronicle's Sunday edition.
But Neeley has never worked as a police officer -- he has been
driving a cab for about 10 years and working at the Ramada Plaza
for three years.
Neeley said he was surprised when a former co-worker called him
Sunday to ask how long he had been an undercover cop. He was shocked
to see his picture in the paper, he said, because he hadn't read
"Then it just hit," he added. He said he realized that
if people thought he was a cop - and an apparently violent one
at that - he might be assaulted by someone who harbored anger
Neeley deals with strangers routinely in his line of work and
said that he has become scared, feeling he has to constantly watch
"I scan the area, make sure no one's around," he said
as he described how he leaves his home.
He couldn't drive his cab the first night after he saw the picture.
On Monday night, one cab customer confronted him.
"She looked at me and said, 'It's you!,'" he said,
adding that while the woman was no threat, her comment "made
me jump to the side of the driver's seat."
Neeley, who stands about 5 feet 10 inches tall, has short brown
hair and is heavyset, said he doesn't think he looks like Haggett.
He saw a picture of the policeman on the television news Monday
Neither Neeley nor his attorney, Dan Bacon, knows how the incorrect
attribution happened. Bacon said The Chronicle is working with
them to try to get to the bottom of the mix-up.
No one even knows where the photo came from, Bacon said. It might
have been taken at the hotel where Neeley works, he said.
Bacon said he finds it puzzling that The Chronicle made such
an error, given that San Francisco police have told him photographs
of all officers are readily available to the public.
He's also surprised that this sort of mistake could happen in
a story that, as far as he understands, took at least 18 months
According to Bacon, a photograph and an explanation of the error
will appear in Wednesday's Chronicle.
But even with these steps to explain who Neeley actually is,
he said, Neeley "has gone through a lot of emotional trauma.''
In a statement issued by The Chronicle on Tuesday, the paper
accepted responsibility for the mistake.
"The Chronicle made an error in the identification of a
photograph that ran in Sunday's newspaper in connection with its
series on the San Francisco Police Department's use of force policy,"
read the statement issued by media and public relations director
"The person in the photograph is not SFPD Sgt. John Haggett,''
the statement continued. "The person in the photograph has
never been a member of the San Francisco Police Department and
is in no way connected to the use of force series. The Chronicle
regrets the error."
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