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Close Encounters October 2020

October 1, 2020

Mentally challenged individuals who live in San Francisco have a hard enough time without being played as pawns by the SF Police Commission.

Members of the Commission are trying to figure out how they can arbitrarily dump 20,000 extra calls for service made by people in crisis every year to some other agency other than the SFPD.

There can hardly be an objection to doing so from the Department since it frees up officers to handle the issues they’ve been trained to deal with.

So here’s an idea…at last count there were over 50 organizations in San Francisco waving the “Non-Profit” flag who proudly advertise how they are ready and willing to offer their assistance to people with mental illness. Why not enroll their help to resolve the problem. After all, the City is already contributing to their financial well-being. (Next month we’ll know just how much they’re getting.)

The non-profits could coordinate a preliminary audit to find out why the calls are being made in the first place. And if it’s because an individual forgot or refused to take their meds (a common cause) then there should be someone other than a police officer responding to assist.

And, while they’re at it, let the non-profits also take a look at the infrastructure of the system itself. There have been far too many times when hospitals in The City have had to “go on diversion” (i.e. not accepting any new psyche holds.) thereby eliminating critical options for those in need.

Some people think that the Police Commissioners would be aware of all of these resources if they’d only take an interest in what the officers are up against every day. We agree.

Unfortunately, we’re still stuck with the status quo, for now.

And the status quo sure didn’t help the officers of Park Stationincluding Sergeant Bud Clinton, Sergeant Curtis Nakano, Officer Angela Yesson, Officer Krystel Fortie, Officer Patrick Condon, Officer Yosel Segundo, Officer Antone Haley, Officer Sean Thompson, and Officer William Wong who were sent to a call of a stabbing involving an individual who was known to the officers for his bizarre behavior on more than one occasion and who would violently resist if he had to be taken into custody.

This time the suspect approached 2 people walking their dogs who reported to the officers that he was speaking incoherently and when passing by them he made an under-handed thrusting motion with an unknown object towards the reportee’s chest area. Both citizens ran from this individual in fear of being seriously injured and called 9-1-1 to report his actions.

The officers conducted a perimeter search for the suspect. Sergeant Bud Clinton responded to Waller and Clayton where he located the suspect and recognized him immediately from prior contacts. He was 6’3”, built like a linebacker and refused to comply with Sergeant Clinton’s orders and similarly ignored the directions of the other officers as well.

At one point the suspect took off running and Sergeant Clinton managed to stop him but when he did the suspect turned and stabbed Sergeant Clinton in the face with the metal cutter he had been wielding.

Sergeant Clinton still managed to hang on to the suspect until other units could get control of the combatant. Once in custody an ambulance was summoned and Sergeant Clinton was taken to the hospital where it took 8 stitches to close the wound while medical staff told him at one point that he was, “very lucky” the cutter just barely missed his eye.

These individuals with mental issues no doubt need care but not at the expense of seriously injuring police officers. Ever. And it’s only a matter of time before the suspect in this case is back on the street again, posing as a problem just waiting to happen.

And, even though none of the Police Commissioners contacted Sgt. Clinton to check on his well-being and thank him for his 25-plus years of unblemished service, they’ll eventually have another chance when he receives the Purple Heart he so well deserves!

One of the most challenging calls for service an officer can receive is a 913 (“Complaint Unknown”). And that’s exactly what Officer Samuel Snadow and Officer Thomas Lee came up for not knowing what they were going to face once arriving at the Tenderloin Hotel where the call to Dispatch was made.

They were immediately directed to an apartment on the 5th floor and could clearly hear someone who sounded despondent behind the locked door to the unit. The officers tried to de-escalate the situation but the individual inside the apartment would not acknowledge their efforts to establish a dialogue. Suddenly they heard glass breaking. Fearing that someone inside the room was in imminent danger, they made entry.

Once inside they found a despondent subject who was trying to take his own life by jumping through a window 5 flights up. He was halfway through when the officers, without hesitation and at great risk to their own personal safety, pulled the him back through the broken panes and window frame for a dramatic and intense rescue.

The subject in question was treated for his injuries at SFGH and placed on a mental health detention — A temporary fix.

Sergeant Heather Fagan prepared a Captain’s Commendation for Officer Snadow and Officer Lee citing, “This case represents our department at its finest. Officer Lee and Officer Snadow are to be commended for their heroic actions and their life-saving efforts. The residents of the Tenderloin are lucky to have them patrolling the district and I am proud to work with them.”

And in the “Potrero” . . . Officer Roger Moore, Officer Richard Hawkins, Officer Jimmy Yu, and Officer Curran Gong responded to a residence to interview an individual who called 9-1-1 because he was afraid his best friend was going to commit suicide because of a pending divorce. The suicidal subject was described as being unusually depressed, erratic, distraught, and upset. The individual he was separating from advised she had received a text message from the subject who said he was going to commit suicide and that he had already devised a plan to do so.

The officers prepared a Critical Reach flyer which they distributed to allied agencies advising them of the situation.

They then conducted a systematic search of known areas he visited and, after 3 hours of doing so, they finally located his parked car. The officers approached the subject who was sleeping in the driver’s seat with an empty Vodka bottle near him. After they woke him they discovered what turned out to be a suicide note on the center console and a wide variety of pills nearby. Due to his alcoholic state, the note, and not knowing what if any drugs he might have taken, the officers had him transferred to SFGH for further evaluation with a 5150 hold.

Sergeant Jerrod Yee prepared the Captain’s Commendation for the officers involved after he had followed up with the original reportee who told him that his friend was doing much better and credited the officers for safely locating him as quickly as they did.

 And thanks to Sergeant Alex Lentz, Mission Station, we recently received a copy of the Captain’s Complimentary Report he authored in regards to an outstanding investigation and arrest performed by the following officers:

Sergeant Sondra Reynolds, Sergeant Michael Mitchell, Officer Lizeth Lopez-Martinez, Officer Sara Richmond, Officer Brian Barron, Officer Eddy Lara, Officer Miguel Cortez, Officer Jason Acosta, Officer Alex Pinnel, Officer Bernard Rapsatt, Officer Carson Schilling, Officer David Edgerson, Officer Eduardo Valenzuela Rodriquez, Officer Cuauhtmoc Martinez, Officer Nicholas Miller, Officer Derrick Gonzales, Officer Christopher Flores, and Officer Isaias Cubas.

Per Sergeant Lentz, “On 7/09/20, at 0852 hours, a shooting was broadcast in the Mission District near the corner of 16th Street and Shotwell Street. On arrival, officers immediately rendered aid to the victim who had a gunshot wound to the arm and another to the back.

Officer Barron and Officer Richmond accompanied the victim to SFGH. Officer Richmond broadcasted the suspect’s description and Officer Barron updated the description to include a bicycle with colored wheels.

Meanwhile, Sergeants Mitchell and Reynolds responded to the scene and coordinated a street closure and systematic sweep for evidence, witnesses and cameras.

Officer Lara, while conducting a quick check for evidence, found spent shell casings in front of 2888 16th Street.

Officer Schilling and Officer Miller established 2 separate crime scenes. one where the victim was located, and the other where Officer Lara had found the shell casings.

Officer Lopez-Martinez located video that captured the shooting from a nearby location.

Officer Acosta and Officer Cortez were searching for the suspect when they heard the updated description about the bicycle with colored wheels. They were at 15th and Julian Streets when their keen eyes spotted an individual who closely matched the description of the shooter. The suspect was sitting next to a mountain bike that matched the earlier description.

Officer Acosta and Officer Cortez quickly contacted the subject and detained him. Further investigation by Officer Barron, Officer Lara, Officer Gonzales and Officer Flores resulted in a positive identification of the suspect.

Meanwhile, Officer Cortez and Officer Acosta were conducting a search of the area nearby where the suspect was located. The officers found a loaded handgun wrapped in a jacket and hidden in a pile of rubbish.

(Sgt. Lentz concluded) “Due to the exceptional teamwork, coordination, and rapid response of Mission Station’s Patrol Sergeants and the Officers, an attempted murderer was apprehended about 1-hour after the shooting occurred.”

Now that’s teamwork!!!

Officer Robert Gilson and Officer David Daneluz, were working a special crime prevention operation in the Northern District just around noon when they pulled over a vehicle in the Marina with 2 on board for a minor traffic violation. A subsequent investigation revealed that the driver was unlicensed, a convicted felon, and, of course, had no explanation as to why he was carrying a fully-loaded, semi-automatic weapon with an extended clip of 20 rounds in a backpack.

This is one case we’d like to keep an eye on. Please keep us posted.

And – stay safe.