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Close Encounters December 2020

December 1, 2020

It’s amazing how many great things the members of the SFPD accomplish each and every day. For instance:

The woman caller to the SF Airport Police Administrative Office was in tears recalling her experience while visiting The City several months ago. But these were actually tears of endearment.

She stated that she had just landed at SFO and took an Uber to downtown SF when she started to feel ill. She suddenly passed out. Fortunately, the Uber driver hadn’t left the SFO garage and he was able to flag down Officer Dan McLaughlin who, after checking on the unconscious woman, immediately called for an ambulance and grabbed an AED device and shocked her 3 times, successfully reviving her. The ambulance crew rushed her to Mills Hospital in critical condition. And thanks to the rapid response, she survived the heart attack.

She was calling to thank the officer who saved her life along with the SFFD rescue squad that arrived in the nick of time.

Or how about the time Officer Terrell Gunn was on patrol in the Tenderloin as a 1-officer unit when he conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle with 3 on board. As soon as Officer Gunn had the car stopped the occupants were starting to come out. He ordered them back into the vehicle and requested a back-up. Good thing he did.

Officer Ryan Prasadi, Officer Michael Reilly, Officer Thomas Smith, and Officer Dillon Bortmas arrived in no time.

Turned out that the driver had outstanding warrants for his arrest and a suspended driver’s license. And both of the passengers in the car had prior firearm convictions. During Officer Terrell’s investigation the passenger in the front right seat quickly opened the car door and began to exit the vehicle even while being ordered to remain where he was. He refused to follow the order and suddenly put his hands in front of his waistband and suddenly drew a gun. One of the officers yelled, “He’s got a gun”, warning the others as they all rushed in to control the armed suspect.

He was taken into custody after a brief struggle and the gun was recovered. Turned out it was a fully-loaded, 9 mm semi-automatic, with a round in the chamber and a high-capacity magazine containing 21 rounds. An additional high-capacity magazine was also discovered within reach of where he was sitting loaded with another 31 rounds.

Captain Carl Fabbri nominated all of the officers involved for a Medal of Valor citing: “The individual had ample time to comply with the officers instead, the suspect decided to actively resist and drew a semi-automatic loaded with 22 rounds of 9 mm ammunition. Only the valiant coordinated actions of the officers kept the suspect from inflicting great bodily harm or death upon the officers.”

And then, on the other side of town, we have the suspect who viciously attacked store security personnel and who was described as 6’ and well over 200 lbs last seen running from the Safeway located on the 300 block of Bay Street. Turned out he was also a former Division I NCAA football defensive back.

Officer Robert Duffield and Officer Talent Tang caught up with him a few blocks away. When the suspect saw them he yelled, “You will not take me.”. The officers then initiated a foot chase at which time the suspect suddenly stopped and started running back towards them, tackling Officer Tang to the ground.

He was now on top of Officer Tang, punching him and then biting him on his face and neck. Officer Duffield couldn’t manage to get Officer Tang free from the suspect’s grasp and now the suspect was going for Officer Tang’s gun. The struggle continued until Officer Duffield sprayed the suspect with his OC and was then able to get control of him as back-up units were just arriving.

It was later learned that the suspect was a convicted, violent felon who had attacked other officers in the past.

It came to our attention while preparing this month’s column that there are still incidents of outstanding police work that have been documented by commanding officers as being worthy of a medal of valor but are still sitting on a desk at the Police Commission level.

Some of these cases occurred over 3 years ago!

Now cops don’t ask for much. They understand that it’s their job to occasionally deal with people no one else wants to handle and they know full well what the dangers are every day they put that uniform on. After all, who else has to put a gun on to go to work?

So they don’t complain when there’s no pat on the back.

But it’s different when you’re a sitting Police Commissioner and you can’t find the time to honor the officers who have, literally, put their lives on the line because the system doesn’t work in a timely manner? Then you need to fix it.

And President Montoya is extremely fortunate to have a gifted administration who, we’re sure, could get this process back on track if the Commission would just reach out.

Isn’t it time they did so?

Tony and his folks are just a phone call away.”