Chesa Boudin talking tough on crime as recall approaches

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The ground appears to be shifting in San Francisco though the ultimate outcome for DA Chesa Boudin is still not certain. On Monday, a jury found a police officer who had been charged with excessive force was not guilty. The outcome was seen as a defeat for police reform in general and for Boudin’s office in particular.


The jury found San Francisco Officer Terrance Stangel not guilty on three counts of brutality. A mistrial was declared on the fourth count, which the jury deadlocked on…

While felony assault charges are not unusual against civilians – the case against Stangel was momentous on several fronts: It appears to be the first case against an on-duty San Francisco police officer for excessive force, and for many police accountability advocates, the prosecution stands as test for District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s campaign pledge to be tougher on cops in cases of brutality.

It wasn’t just the outcome of the case that made news. Earlier this year an investigator working for the DA’s office took the stand and claimed prosecutors had told her to exclude exculpatory evidence in the case:

At issue was testimony from district attorney investigator Magen Hayashi, who said on Thursday that the prosecutor in the case against Stangel told her to remove parts of an arrest warrant for the officer that described Spiers abusing his girlfriend before police arrived at the scene.

Hayashi testified: “I was told to remove sections – that it wasn’t relevant.”

She added that she felt pressured to sign the amended warrant and that “It was a general understating if you don’t sign these things, you’ll be fired.”

That explosive allegation created a rift between the DAs office and the SFPD which led Police Chief Bill Scott to end an agreement with the DA’s office about how police misconduct would be investigated.


The agreement, or memorandum of understanding, was signed in 2019 and made the district attorney’s Independent Investigations Bureau the lead agency in investigating officer use-of-force cases to avoid possible conflicts of interest with the police investigating themselves…

“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 to further ancillary criminal investigations in accordance with the MOU,” Scott wrote in a letter to District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Yesterday, in the wake of the not guilty verdict for Officer Stangel, S.F. Police Commissioner John Hamasaki announced he was stepping down from his position. Hamasaki is one of the most outspoken advocates for police reform in the city.

The San Francisco Chronicle has more:

Last month, [Police Chief] Scott said he would unilaterally terminate that MOU amid allegations that the District Attorney’s Office had not shared with police information that could have helped Stangel’s case.

Hamasaki was among the first public officials to point out that Scott’s decision came on the eve of Stangel’s trial, and blasted the move as an attempt to sway jurors ahead of the city’s first known excessive force case against a police officer, allegations that Scott forcefully denied.

While the police commission could have voted to compel Scott to stick with the current MOU, it instead allowed Scott and District Attorney Chesa Boudin to renegotiate the terms of their agreement over the next 60 days.

“(When) no commissioners were willing to vote to extend the MOU, that was kind of the final straw,” Hamasaki said.


With progressive reformers suddenly finding themselves on the back foot in San Francisco, even DA Boudin is talking tough on crime. Tuesday, his office threw the book at a trio of car thieves.

Many criminals, who would have likely not been prosecuted before, are now being prosecuted by the DA’s office, including the three on Tuesday. Boudin announced that Tomiko Miller, Deshawn Patton, and Michael Menifee-Patton were charged with four counts of second degree burglary, four counts of receiving stolen property, one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of resisting arrest, and other charges. Al three were observed breaking into cars, with Miller also receiving additional robbery charges for participating in the Union Square robberies last year and cutting off his ankle monitor after previously being released by a judge.

“Auto burglaries have plagued this city for far too many years; I will do everything in my power to put an end to this scourge. I have a simple message for auto burglars: if you get arrested you will be held accountable,” Boudin said in a press release on Tuesday. “Our office will once again ask the court for detention in this case and hope that the court will reevaluate its prior ruling and now order Mr. Miller to be held in custody pending trial.”…

“The School Board members being recalled obviously spooked him,” said Bay Area political issue consultant Hannah Reed to the Globe on Tuesday.

Reed added, “We’ll probably see more publicized prosecutions as the election nears.”


When Gov. Newsom was facing a recall he suddenly was outside with the city sanitation crews cleaning up homeless camps. No doubt Boudin will try the same thing, temporarily talking tough on the very type of crime which statistics show his office has been “charging down” or giving pre-trial diversion. The tough-on-crime act won’t last long. The moment the recall danger is over, Boudin will go back to emptying jails and giving professional criminals a pass. Hopefully San Francisco residents won’t fall for it.

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