San Francisco Police Officers' lawsuit alleges
racism in 'videogate' suspension disciplinary action
SFPD Officer Andrew Cohen, author of the infamous SFPD video that
became known as 'videogate',
is a co-plaintiff in a civil lawsuit alleging racism against those
officers suspended for making a racist video while using public
By Brent Begin / Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
August 10, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Several San Francisco police officers
who received suspensions and re-assignments for their part in
making a controversial video were the victims of racism and unfair
disciplinary actions, according to a lawsuit being filed today
in San Francisco Superior Court.
Andrew Cohen, the producer of the now infamous video of officer
antics that sparked the ire of city leaders and led to an ongoing
disciplinary investigation, stood with five other plaintiffs in
the lawsuit in front of the Hall of Justice today as their attorney,
Waukeen McCoy, announced the details.
Eighteen officers from the Bayview station are seeking $20 million
from San Francisco and police Chief Heather Fong for what they
call unfair disciplinary actions.
"Fong disciplined everybody except the Asian officers, who
were prominently featured in the video," McCoy said. "There
could be no other reason in my mind for these officers not being
Attorney Waukeen McCoy explains details of the civil lawsuit to
The lawsuit claims that Fong, who is Chinese American, moved
20 officers to administrative or "no contact" positions
while four officers were not disciplined because of their Asian
The plaintiffs represent a diversity of racial backgrounds and
include both men and women.
Eight of the officers involved, including Cohen and Officer Wendy
Hurley, are still assigned to non-contact positions within the
"My spirit as a police officer has been crushed," Hurley
said. She added that she had spent a lot of time working on relationships
in the community and that in her current position, her experience
and training are going to waste.
Officer Wendy Hurley
The lawsuit also claims that San Francisco officials and Fong
insulted the plaintiffs publicly by calling them sexist, racist
Cohen said he found Fong's alleged actions ironic because he
was the one who has publicly been called a racist. Cohen's badge
and gun have not been re-issued.
"We are wasting away as highly paid paper-pushers,"
Officers Clayton Harmstrong, Gigi George, James Lewis and Erick
Solares also appeared at today's announcement.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said this afternoon the lawsuit
only "reinforces my concern about action and accountability."
Mayor Gavin Newsom
Newsom said that, unlike the general public, he has seen more
than 20 "vignettes" from the controversial video and
that anyone who saw them would understand how seriously he takes
A Police Department spokesman was not immediately able to comment
on the suit this afternoon. The department's internal investigation
into the circumstances surrounding the production of the video
is expected to wind up soon.
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