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Close Encounters January 2020

January 1, 2020

We normally sign off each one of our columns with a ‘Stay safe’ hoping that you can avoid all of the dangers associated with the job you do. After all, what other profession requires that you wear a gun to work. And what other occupation leaves you with only seconds before you have to decide which type of force is necessary to render a situation safe. And that decision you make will then follow you through all of the pending interviews and reports you’ll have to deal with justifying your actions. Then, at some point, people with official titles will take months to decide whether/not that 1-second choice you made was appropriate.

And people wonder why it’s so hard to fill the vacancies that are occurring in law enforcement today.


Officer Tracy Turner and Officer Michael Petuya responded to a report of a man armed with a gun sitting in a car near the Geary Boulevard tunnel. The officers responded and located the suspect vehicle parked with 1 on board. The officers approached the occupied truck and Officer Patuya noticed the stock handle portion of a firearm sticking out from the center console area. The officers immediately placed the suspect into custody. Turned out the gun was loaded and he was also in possession of cocaine base and heroin.

It’s just after noon when 9-1-1 receives a call of ‘shots fired’ on the 1400 block of Innes Avenue in the Bayview. Officer Michael Toomey, Officer Richard Hawkins, Officer Pierre Mayorga, Officer Ian Mikulas, Officer Mark Wilker, Officer Rolando Sanchez, Officer Rodney Freeman and Officer Steven Coleman responded. The officers immediately set up a perimeter and utilized the ‘contain and call-out’ technique to increase the odds of a successful resolution. The suspect decided to surrender to the officers and a designated arrest team to him into custody. Further investigation revealed he was in possession of a 9mm pistol loaded with a 15 round high-capacity magazine.

The 9-1-1 caller said he just witnessed a man beating a woman and then dragging her to his car on the 1600 block of Hayes Street. Officer Jose Mora, Officer Natalie Villatoro, Officer Lauren Nelson, Officer Megan Monahan and Lieutenant Dave Maron all responded to the scene. The officers located a woman’s purse and blood stains on the ground from where the crime occurred. A perimeter was set up just about the time when Dispatch started receiving more calls of another alleged DV occurring approximately 5 blocks away. Officer Howard Brown responded and located the suspect’s car with the victim inside at 19th Avenue and Lincoln. This was apparently a continuation of the initial incident the officers responded to on Hayes Street. Turned out the suspect was the ex-boyfriend of the victim and was already on felony probation for several violent assaults.

The Vallejo Police Department responded to a home invasion robbery where a young woman was reportedly held captive and sexually assaulted while the suspects robbed the house of valuables. The Vallejo PD engaged in a high-speed pursuit of the suspect vehicle after the incident and were able to arrest 3 of the 4 suspects. The one suspect who was wanted was known to the investigating officers and lived in SF. The Vallejo PD investigators contacted Officer Raymond Biagini and Officer Steven Filippi who worked Special Investigations and asked for their assistance in locating and arresting the wanted felon. And the officers did exactly that.

It was early evening when a resident of the unit block on Rodgers Street called 9-1-1 to report a burglary that just occurred. The caller had video of the suspect breaking into a lockbox and using the key inside to gain entry to the apartment building. Officer Vincent Pacchetti and Officer Phillip Freed responded, took the report, and checked the video footage to capture a photo of the suspect. The officers conducted a search and located the felon soon after. The long, blonde dreadlocks helped make the identification along with his carrying a blow-torch and a pry-bar . . .

Officer Oscar Abucay was on uniformed patrol with his partner Officer Anh Nguyen when they were flagged down by several bystanders all pointing out an individual who had just collapsed. The subject was a 64-year old male with no pulse and unresponsive. Officer Abucay immediately began CPR chest cxompressions until he was relieved by SFFD Engine #1 personnel. Unfortunately, the man they were trying to help passed away later that evening at SFGH.

Sergeant Eric Balmy wrote an impressive commendation citing, “Officer Abucay demonstrated that one of the core values of The Department’s Mission Statement – i.e. The protection of human life – is not an empty sentiment but one that he takes on patrol with him every day.”

Sergeant Michelle Primiano and Officer Mark Fraize, working a plainclothes assignment, were driving south on Hyde Street crossing Golden Gate when they saw an individual on the sidewalk pointing a handgun across the street from where he was standing. Michelle and Mark immediately pulled over and ran towards the subject commanding the suspect to drop his weapon. He finally complied and was then placed in custody. Further investigation proved that the weapon was actually a BB gun that had been altered in a manner that it appeared to be an authentic firearm as the orange coloring had been removed.

But what if the individual they encountered pointed his replica weapon at the officers and refused to comply with their commands. How much restraint is necessary before you put yourself in further jeopardy of being killed. Fortunately, for the suspect, the officers he encountered were seasoned veterans who assessed the risk and made the right choice.

It used to be established protocol for each new Police Commissioner to take the ‘Shoot, Don’t shoot’ Course at the Police Academy. Hopefully, that policy is still in place. And it might not be such a bad idea for our new District Attorney to attend a session as well . . .

And sadly, with the end of the calendar year, the Officer Down Memorial page has listed 121 line of duty deaths in law enforcement for the year 2019. Just think how the lives of all those family members have changed from that ultimate sacrifice.

Have a great New Year and stay safe.