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Close Encounters February 2021

March 1, 2021

Hard to believe that at the time of this writing the officers of the SFPD have not been fully vaccinated . . . Something’s wrong there.

Everyone else is sheltering in place while the officers of the SFPD remain exposed to the deadly virus.

What kind of message is City Hall sending to those police officers who put their lives on the line every day?

It sure reads loud and clear that the needs of the officers are not going to be given a priority worthy of the sacrifice they make every day


But the beat goes on . . .

It was a Monday night in early January, when Officers fro m Northern Station responded to a report of a ShotSpotter call in the area of Geary and Steiner. Officer Destinee Martinez and Officer Tony Sharron responded to the run as the primary unit. Officers Alexander Cephus and Officer Marcos Zambrano arrived and located a victim who was suffering from a gunshot wound. While the officers rendered aid, Officer Stephanie Fujihara and Officer Joe Porta established a crime scene to preserve evidence. Meanwhile, Officers Max MacKenzie and Officer Josh Quevedo were responding to the shooting when they suddenly saw a blue VW that seemed to be in a hurry to leave the area.

The vehicle’s erratic driving was enough to convince Officer MacKenzie and Officer Quevedo to change course and investigate this reckless driver. It’s good that they did, as they soon discovered from dispatch that the VW was indeed the car the suspects were using to flee the scene from what was now an attempted homicide.

A pursuit ensued, during which the VW began carelessly ramming innocent vehicles off the street. Recognizing the immediate threat the occupants posed to the public, Officers MacKenzie and Officer Quevedo used the push bumper on their police vehicle to safely deflect the suspect’s vehicle, bringing the pursuit to a stop.

Officers Jesse O’Keeffe, Officer Anthony Srinivas and Officer Steven Ogbonna were on scene within moments and assisted with taking both suspects into custody and securing the loaded firearm that was within reach of the suspects in the vehicle.

Multiple units from Tenderloin Station responded to assist, including Officers Ricardo Ramirez and Officer Nathan Lim, who assisted with the collision investigation. Sergeant James Funk and Sergeant Heidi Morales from NIU responded out and took charge of the investigation.

Thanks to the outstanding teamwork of all involved, two dangerous felons were taken off the streets.

And on . . .

On a Wednesday night in late January, Officers from Northern Station responded to the area of Van Ness and Washington regarding a victim of an assault. After their investigation, they discovered that the suspect had randomly parked and exited his Mercedes and kicked a homeless man on the sidewalk.

Minutes later, the same suspect again attacked a homeless man who was collecting items for recycling. This second attack culminated in a stabbing, during which the homeless victim received serious injuries.

The next night, Officers Nick Zerga and Officer Chris Cassinelli responded to a report of a male who had just been stabbed while sitting in his vehicle at a red light near Polk Street. Minutes later, Officers Nick Boccio and Officer Yuka Nagamine responded to a call of a possible kidnapping and a related hit and run collision at Washington and Polk Streets. Although the apparent victim of the kidnapping had left the scene, the Officers continued their investigation because it became readily apparent that these incidents were possibly connected.

A helpful witness to the hit and run provided a very distinctive license plate description for the suspect Mercedes, which Northern Officers quickly recognized as matching the stabbing on the prior evening. While on scene, Officers from Northern spotted a possible Mercedes traveling on Polk Street. Officers Russell Fong and Officer Vlasdilav Shalit heard the radio traffic, and quickly located the same Mercedes at Geary and Taylor.

They detained the driver, and held him for Northern Units. Officers Kevin Lynch and Officer Russell Lucia responded and conducted a search of the Mercedes, during which they located multiple cutting instruments, likely used during the above crimes.

As if the suspect’s miniature crime spree wasn’t bad enough, turns out he was traveling with his young son in the vehicle. Officer Vincent Fontela responded and took protective custody of the child until he could be safely reunited with a grandparent. 

And on . . .

On 12/05/20 at approximately 2347 hours, Sgt.Sergio Lopez, Officer Kevin Burke and Officer Kevin Downs were assigned to a crime suppression detail during a candlelight vigil being held at the 200 block of Blythedale Ave. in the Sunnydale Housing Projects.

Officer Danny Barajas, Officer Bryan Zahn, and Officer Jiries Naser were also assigned to the detail driving in a separate marked police vehicle parked on Geneva Ave. and Santos St.

At approximately 2347 hours, the officers observed a black Infiniti sedan driving at a high rate of speed southbound on Santos St. from the area of Blythedale Ave. towards Geneva Ave. As the vehicle approached the intersection of Geneva Ave. and Santos St. it appeared the driver had spotted the patrol vehicles and quickly slammed on the brakes. The car then slowly drove into the parking lot of the liquor store on the northwest corner of Geneva Ave. and Santos St.

Shortly after, dispatch received a call of ‘shots fired’ in the area of the 200 block of Blythedale Ave. The reporting party only stated that they saw someone fire three gun shots out of a black vehicle. Based on the black Infiniti sedan traveling at a high rate of speed from the immediate area of where the gun shots were reportedly seen and heard from, its abrupt stop, and the reporting party’s suspect vehicle description, the officers began to follow the vehicle attempting to get the license plate information.

They determined there was sufficient probable cause to effect a traffic stop on the vehicle based on the above listed information so they activated forward facing red lights at Santos St. and Brookdale Ave. The vehicle slowed and it appeared to begin to yield. Suddenly, the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed northbound Santos St. to eastbound Sunnydale Ave. Officer Downs initiated a pursuit of the vehicle. Officer Burke began to relay the suspect vehicle information and direction of travel via dispatch as we pursued the vehicle eastbound Sunnydale Ave. to southbound Hahn St.

Based on the erratic driving of the suspect vehicle, Sgt. Lopez advised to cancel the pursuit at which point Officer Downs deactivated the forward facing red lights and slowed speed to comply with the posted speed limit.

After the pursuit was cancelled, they continued driving southbound Hahn St. towards Sunrise Way when they observed the suspect vehicle which had collided with a parked vehicle on the 400 block of Sunrise Way. The vehicle was disabled with airbags deployed. Both the driver door and passenger door were open and the vehicle was unoccupied. An unknown witness informed them that the suspects ran onto Sawyer St. Officer Burke and Sgt. Lopez began to search the area on foot while Officer Downs secured the suspect vehicle and he could see, in plain view, an assault pistol on the driver side floorboard. While searching the area, Officer Burke spotted a black male adult walking in a hunched position attempting to conceal himself behind parked vehicles. Officer Burke ordered this subject to stop at which point he began running northbound Pueblo St. to westbound Velasco Ave.

Officer Burke and Sgt. Lopez gave chase until the suspect eventually surrendered.

Officer Naser arrived on scene and placed him under arrest. While retracing the flight path of the suspects, Sgt. Lopez located a pistol in a nearby driveway. A record check of the suspect revealed that he is a convicted felon out of San Mateo County. . Officer Downs later inspected the seized pistol and assault pistol at Ingleside Station. The pistol had a loaded 15 round high capacity magazine inserted into the magazine well. Officer Downs saw that it had an unfired cartridge in the ARMS AP.-9 with a loaded magazine inserted into the magazine well.

And, finally:

On 2-1-21 at approximately 1213hrs. Officer Bernard Rabsatt and Officer Laura Presley were on uniformed patrol while driving a marked radio car E/B 16th St. when they heard the sound of a vehicle alarm and soon located the source. Officer Rabsatt saw a woman walk from the vehicle in question to a waiting taxi carrying a green bag and he became suspicious that a crime had occurred as she was the only person who was near the vehicle sounding the alarm and had swiftly boarded the taxi.

After the cab had driven off, Officer Rabsatt and Officer Presley decided to follow and conduct an investigative stop so that they could detain and question the woman passenger.

As Officer Rabsatt was about to affect an investigative stop of the vehicle, the cab suddenly stopped on its own and a woman exited without the green bag. Officer Rabsatt and Officer Presley then detained her.

Officer Rabsatt walked back to the cab and saw the green bag that she had originally carried from the vehicle was on the floor in the rear, passenger area of the cab. Officer Rabsatt asked the cab driver if he knew who the green bag belonged to and he stated that he did not. Officer Rabsatt seized the bag and noted the contents.

When additional officers arrived at the scene of the detention, Officer Rabsatt and Presley went back to the vehicle with the sounding alarm and saw that the rear passenger window had been shattered. Officer Rabsatt and Presley were able to locate the owner of the vehicle who lived nearby.

After making contact with the vehicle owner, the owner was initially unable to determine if there was any loss from the auto boosting. Officer Presley showed the seized green bag to the victim and asked him if the bag belonged to him. After seeing the bag, the victim stated that the bag belonged to him and he was able to list the contents which matched what Officer Rabsatt had noted when he first seized it.

In addition, Officer Rabsatt and Officer Presley located two surveillance cameras that might have captured the incident.

After the suspect was placed under arrest for the auto burglary, Officer Presley conducted a computer search which revealed that she was on active felony probation for burglary out of SF till 4-12-23. She had an extensive arrest record in SF dating back to 2011. Her arrests included numerous burglaries, possession of stolen property, possession of burglary tools, robberies and possession of narcotics.

Officer Presley conducted an arrest search on the subject at the scene and located methamphetamine that was later verified by a Tru-Narc test.

At Mission Station, Officer Rabsatt Mirandized the suspect who confessed to taking the green bag.

Sergeant Mike Mitchell submitted this information for inclusion in the Close Encounter column no doubt because he was proud of the officers under his supervision. And he should be.

They interrupted a theft in-progress committed by an individual who has not earned the right of probation and, unfortunately for her, probably never will.

In the meantime — stay safe out there.