SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco’s police chief said Wednesday that he is terminating an agreement allowing the district attorney’s office to investigate police shootings and in-custody deaths, citing serious concerns over the office’s impartiality.
In a letter sent Wednesday by Police Chief Bill Scott to District Attorney Chesa Boudin, the police chief cited court testimony last week by an investigator with the DA’s office who said she felt pressured to sign an affidavit against an officer that left out evidence that could have possibly helped the officer.
“It appears that the DA’s office has an ongoing practice of investigations against SFPD officers that includes withholding and concealing information and evidence the SFPD is entitled to have” under the agreement, Scott wrote.
Rachel Marshall, a spokesperson for Boudin’s office, called the decision “disappointing but no coincidence” as the officer is about to go on trial. She said San Franciscans should be safe from unwarranted police violence.
The memorandum of understanding was first reached between Scott and Boudin’s predecessor in 2019 and was renewed last year for another two years. The purpose of the agreement was to give the DA’s office the lead in criminal investigations of police and give the public confidence in decisions to charge officers.
Boudin is a former public defender who was elected DA in 2019 as part of a national wave of progressive prosecutors opposed to mass incarceration and in favor of restorative justice. He faces a recall election in June.
DA’s investigator Magen Hayashi testified last week that she was pressured to sign an affidavit against Terrance Stangel, a former police officer facing battery and assault charges for beating a man with a baton. She said she was ordered to remove parts in the affidavit stating that the man was abusing his girlfriend.
“It was a general understanding in my experience in this office, if you don’t sign these things you’ll be fired,” she told the judge, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to a police news release, Scott has reached out to the state attorney general’s office for guidance on other agencies that could provide independent investigations of possible police misconduct, including police shootings, in-custody deaths and use of force.
The attorney general’s office has the ability to investigate certain incidents involving police and is doing so now after San Francisco police officers killed an unarmed man at the airport last month.
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