In the September 16, 2016 edition of SF Gate there was a headline article of “Adachi says defendant in BART arrest had the right to fight police.” Apparently Public Defender Jeff Adachi will be arguing in court that his client’s “actions were necessary in order for him to save his life.” Part of those actions condoned by Mr. Adachi were the biting, kicking, and finger gouging of the police officers along with spitting on them by the defendant. This combative resister was even able to kick the body worn camera off of one of the officers.
This incident occurred on July 29, 2016 at the Embarcadero BART Station where two uniformed BART police officers attempted to legally detain a suspect based on several 911 calls for help.
The suspect was eventually taken into custody and will receive due process in a court of law. But Mr. Adachi has knowingly, or perhaps unknowingly, endangered his future potential client’s safety and well-being. His foolish comments also place law enforcement in further peril.
Everyone accused of a crime or violation of the law has a constitutional right to challenge any accusations or charges against them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law or by a jury of their peers following due process.
Mr. Adachi apparently now believes that suspects should seek disposition on the street with the cops when they are lawfully confronted or detained even though the cops are sanctioned, by law, to investigate and enforce our society’s laws.
Mr. Adachi’s advice is reckless and dangerous and he knows better. But he is blinded by his thirst for self-promotion. Those who have or will commit criminal acts may now be emboldened by Mr. Adachi to resist arrest or fight a cop rather than submit to a lawful order by a police officer. These actions may lead to officers utilizing other force options against a combative individual. In the worst case scenario if a suspect produces a weapon then the outcome could be disastrous for both the suspect and the officer.
All officers are bound by rules, regulations, policies, and procedures, along with State and Constitutional obligations and restrictions. Below is language of California Penal Code 835a. It is clear and members of the SFPD, along with all Peace Officers in California, are obligated to adhere to it. This section of the California Penal Code is so important that it is included in the Use of Force policy for the SFPD.
Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.
A peace officer who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from his efforts by reason of the resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested; nor shall such officer be deemed an aggressor or lose his right to self-defense by the use of reasonable force to effect the arrest or to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.
Mr. Adachi’s reckless statements have done nothing more than place the most vulnerable in our community at further risk when they encounter the police. He has shown his continued disregard for the safety of first responders who must deal with extremely complex issues in an unreasonably short period of time.
Mr. Adachi can afford that luxury. He sits in his ivory tower wearing his Armani suits and his Cartier watch, judging everything from ten seconds of video, and then retreats to his mansion in Saint Francis Wood at the end of every day.
Unfortunately the cops on the street, unlike Mr. Adachi, don’t have that option. They go into harm’s way 24/7 and do not have the benefit of being Monday morning quarterbacks.