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Thursday, November 13, 2008

San Francisco Police Officer Sues Antioch Over Taser Incident

When we last checked in on our old friend and former Davis Police Chief Jim Hyde, his new department and city were facing a class action lawsuit over alleged racial profiling in Section 8 housing projects in Antioch.

Now the Antioch Police Department is back in the news, in one of those not-so-good ways as a San Francisco police inspector has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Antioch claiming that an Antioch police officer tased her during a confrontation in her home where she was attempting to evict a tenant.

According to SFPD Inspector Marvetia Lynn Richardson, a 41 year-old African-American who has served the SFPD for 14 years, "Antioch officers broke down her door last year, stunned her with a Taser and then took her to jail when she demanded to write "Tasered" on a citation for resisting arrest."

Apparently this incident is an outgrowth of efforts by Antioch police officers to enter homes without warrants to "harass and drive African American tenants out of federally subsidized housing."

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the suit filed in US District Court in San Francisco names among others the City of Antioch, Police Chief James Hyde, a police sargent, and three officers.

The city of course, denies any wrongdoing claiming that officers acted properly in investigating reports of violence against residents at the home.
"Richardson refused to sign a citation for resisting arrest and tried to write "Tasered" on it. An officer ripped the citation out of her hand and she was taken to jail, the suit said.

Judge Charles Treat of Contra Costa County Superior Court dismissed the resisting-arrest charge in June, saying the police entry into Richardson's house was illegal."
Dan Noyes from KGO in San Francisco, also is covering this story. Some may recall the stories he did on the Buzayan case in Davis.

Noyes has a seven-minute report that aired on Monday night.

You can watch the video of the news broadcast and read the transcript of the report.

There are a number of angles to this story. One of the things that Dan Noyes points out in his "iteam" blog is that the police report does not seem to match the audio of what happened during the incident.
"Antioch Police Officer Santiago Martinez was one of four officers who responded to the scene; he’s also the one who tased Richardson. There are some serious discrepancies in the report Martinez filed, compared to what’s on the audio recording."
"One defense lawyer writes the audio recording provides “a most disturbing account of officer fabricating and bolstering the facts of the incident to rise to a level of leading the witness, putting words into her mouth, and persuasion in effectuating the statements of the victims.”
This entire report seems uncannily familiar. At one point, Noyes reports that Chief Hyde refused to speak with him about this issue. One might recall when Noyes had an interview in Davis set up with Chief Hyde on the Buzayan case, he abruptly ended the interview and then according to emails had some rather choice words to say about Dan Noyes.

Still recent reports out of Antioch indicate that the City Council is pleased with Jim Hyde, they are pleased and credit him that crime is down, but the entire situation and escalation seems eerily familiar to the pattern that occurred in Davis. If anything it is escalated above anything that we saw in Davis. One thing that is clear, there are a number of staunch defenders of the chief in Antioch as there was in Davis and public opinion on him seems highly polarized.

---David M. Greenwald reporting