Cohen attorneys blame Newsom and Fong
for Videogate national spotlight
Email identifies Cohen's attorney as leak
Daniel Horowitz, at a 2pm press conference yesterday, City Hall.
By Pat Murphy
and Luke Thomas
December 15, 2005
Attorneys for videogate producer Andrew Cohen yesterday continued
to scorn Police Chief Heather Fong and Mayor Gavin Newsom for
releasing Andrew Cohen's video to the national media for political
reasons. The Sentinel has learned Cohen's attorney Daniel Horowitz,
actually provided the tape footage to the Good Morning America
show on December 7, himself.
Horowitz, legal counsel to Cohen, joined attorneys Harry Stern
and Michael Rains on San Francisco City Hall steps yesterday accusing
Newsom of revealing the video to distract attention from rising
Cohen attorneys Michael Rains (center) and Harry Stern (left)
are members of the Rains, Lucia and Wilkinson law firm.
Public release of a private tape has been at the
core of Horowitz criticism of city response.
Horowitz described public release of the video as
a shocking violation of privacy.
"We were shocked when the mayor of San Francisco
and the chief of police, in essence, they called in Cohen and
tried to bring in every ethnic and racial community to say, 'he
offended you,' when the offense that they perceived was in these
videos that Andrew never released, that Andrew was pulling back
with my help and I was astounded to then see the mayor and the
chief play these videos for national television," related
Horowitz told the Sentinel last night he doesn't
know how Good Morning America acquired the tape.
you personally were the first to release
video tapes of this to the national media, that you sent it to,
I believe, Good Morning America," the Sentinel posed last
night to Horowitz.
"Yeah, I'm going to just tell you the truth
and then you can do whatever you have to do to verify it,"
"Do you know how Good Morning America got copies
of the clips?" asked the Sentinel.
.I don't know how Good Morning America
got the clips. I also don't know which clips they had or showed.
In contradiction, an email reviewed by the Sentinel
described Los Angeles feed to television networks as initiated
by the Cohen camp.
Horowitz sent the tape by Federal Express to Los
Angles on December 7, which was received at 11:30 p.m. and fed
by satellite to New York, according to the email.
Cohen attrorney Michael Rains denied his firm sent
the video to Good Morning America.
"Did you give the tapes to Good Morning America?"
the Sentinel asked during the press conference.
"No. We've given the tapes to no one,"
On December 7, Horowitz appeared on KRON-TV raising
"Maybe it (the video) is dumb, and if it is
dumb, who released this nationally? The mayor and Heather Fong,
the so-called Police Chief, Horowitz told KRON's Phil Matier.
"Andrew Cohen simply released it on a website.
The address was known only to police officers. So if this is sophomoric,
the one who is the most sophomoric of all, is the one who released
it nationally, Heather Fong and Gavin Newsom.
"It was not going to be released. Actually
we were pulling back the DVDs that were out there. No police officer
was releasing this in any way."
The following morning Horowitz appeared on ABC's
Good Morning America on which the video was aired.
At the 2pm press conference, Cohen attorneys claimed
the video is the cause of city movement toward revamping police
response to violence, and that Newsom has not held press conferences
regarding street violence.
"What I'm deathly afraid of, not only as Andrew
Cohen's lawyer, but also as a resident of the City and County
of San Francisco, that the mayor is using this case, is scapegoating
Andrew Cohen and the other officers to distract everybody from
the real problems in Bayview Hunters Point," Rains said.
"You don't see Mayor Newsom showing up and
concerning himself with press conferences about the 92 homicides
that have taken place in Bayview Hunters Point and in this area.
It's unprecedented. Yet, coincidentally enough, when that bad
press is starting to come out all of a sudden we see this issue
raised about Andrew Cohen. He (Newsom) flaunts the issue. He makes
this a problem. He creates the controversy."
"How do you know the mayor doesn't go to press
conferences about the violence?" the Sentinel asked.
"I don't. I don't go to listen to him,"
Horowitz said community meetings on violence resulted
from the Cohen video.
"What is the result of Andrew Cohen's art?
We learned today from the mayor that for the first time there
has been a community meeting with the citizens of Hunters Point
Bayview and there are nine more meetings scheduled", Horowitz
"This is all about people just joking around,
and it got out of hand because the mayor released this story nationally.
"I will never release those tapes. They were
never meant to be publicly released."
"There was always a danger that
it would fall into
hands that it shouldn't fall into. That someone would make an
issue out of it that shouldn't be made an issue of," Rains
"In this case it was the mayor and the chief.
The danger was there. Andrew should have seen it. He didn't
see it. That was a mistake," Rains added.
"What this is, is these officers making fun
of themselves. That is what it's about," Rains explained.
"So you see this was a video that was intended
to be private.
"These are officers. This is police humor.
And you know what, the mayor might find it sick. The mayor might
find it tasteless. Well the mayor has told you he wants to change
the entire culture of this department
but is this a case
where the entire police culture in San Francisco should be remade
in the name of the mayor? Do we all want to be like Gavin Newsom?
I think not. I certainly don't want to be like him, and I don't
think the police culture likes to be like the mayor," quipped
For their part, Fong and Newsom held a press conference
Wednesday defending their response to the video production.
Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief Heather Fong
"It's the last thing this department needs,
but it's not the decisions that were made here at City Hall
- it was the decisions that were made in the district stations
by members of that department that have put the whole department
on the line
," Newsom said.
"I think there is something fundamentally
we decide it is in the best interests of the
station to celebrate the holidays by putting people on film
that I think objectively portray the department in a negative
"I think the problem is extended to those...
the only mistake that was made... was putting these things on
"I'm one of the few people who had a chance
to review all of the videos and I just want you to know that
there are some other videos that are extraordinarily offensive
- not just offensive but extraordinarily offensive.
"If people think this is fun and games to
run over an alleged homeless person, to make fun of different
races and communities, to make fun of the police chief of the
City and County of San Francisco, to enact skits where people
aren't doing their job
I don't think that's cute or funny.
"What I find remarkable here is that these
are sworn police officers. These are people we are supposed
to look up to
These are people in uniform and
on the city dime.
"If this occurred in any business in the
private sector, none of us
none of us would criticize the
company for taking aggressive and swift action, but for some
reason some people have lowered the bar here in San Francisco
as if, well, it's a stressful job and somehow certain conduct
is okay under those circumstances.
"I don't care what criticism I take. There
is zero tolerance for this kind of insensitivity.
"When all this is said and done - and you
may not see the tapes for a year or two - you're going to look
back and say, 'boy, they were rathered measured in this response.'