San Francisco Police Commission may subpoena Videogate
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
May 31, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- The San Francisco Police Commission
will discuss issuing a subpoena tonight to embattled police officer
Andrew Cohen for the contents of his computer, according to commission
secretary Sgt. Joe Reilly.
Reilly did not say if the subpoena was connected to an investigation
into a series of controversial video clips released in December
that prompted police Chief Heather Fong to suspend 24 officers.
Cohen, however, has repeatedly apologized publicly through his
attorneys to the suspended officers and their families for producing
the videos, and the investigation has been pending since the video's
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.
Harry Stern, an attorney who represents Cohen, said he wasn't
sure the commission was subpoenaing his client's computer records
for the video investigation, but he "supposed" it was.
All 24 Bayview station officers have since been reinstated to
mostly administrative positions, but their return is conditional
upon a 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 notbe 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 tonight's police commission meeting is a signal
that the process is moving forward.
Also at tonight's meeting, the commission is expected to vote
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
The police commission meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. with a closed
session meeting in room 263 of City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett
Place, San Francisco. An open session will immediately follow.
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