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Close Encounters April 2022

April 1, 2022

It was a little after midnight when Officer Giovanni Leyva, Officer Mariano Flores, and Officer Michael Scherer were on patrol in the Bayview and noticed a car stopped in the middle of the street with 1 on board. A quick computer check revealed the vehicle was reported stolen.

The officers conduct a high-risk traffic stop and the suspect/driver decides to simply ignore the directions of the officers and casually walk away.

Probably not a great game plan as the officers quickly detain him pending further investigation. Turns out the reason this individual didn’t want to socialize with the officers was because he knew he had 2 outstanding warrants for his arrest.

Not only that, but he was also in possession of an assault weapon with an extended magazine for longer fire power that was found in the front seating area available to him if he wanted. It was a “ghost gun” lacking a serial number or any other identifying information. The suspect was a convicted felon, also in possession of methamphetamine and the subject of 2 active probation clauses that were pending.

Sergeant Jarrod Yee submitted a Captain’s Commendation on behalf of the officers involved citing the fact that their actions enhanced public safety in San Francisco. The suspect’s extensive violent criminal history and the fact that he was in possession of a loaded firearm with an extended magazine was a reminder of the dangers the officers face daily.

But as Sgt. Yee was preparing this document, he came across an additional arrest report filed by the same officers 48 hours prior where they arrested another individual under the exact same circumstances (i.e. also carrying an unlawfully possessed firearm with an extended magazine.)
And that is exactly why this column is called Close Encounters.

Somedays it’s just not worth getting out of bed with criminal intent . . . . Consider the individual who was involved in a hit/run accident in the Tenderloin and fled but was captured driving through the Richmond District by Officer Anna Cuthbertson, Officer Kimberly Lopez and Officer Keyon Watson – Strike 1. The officers routinely checked ownership of the car while conducting their hit/run investigation, and, in this case, they woke the owner who told the officers his car was stolen while he was asleep – Strike 2. The suspect was wearing an ankle monitor at the time of this arrest which put him in the exact location where the car was stolen and also where several auto burglaries occurred earlier in the day. Strike 3!!

The knock-out punch was delivered by Officer Watson who recognized the suspect as a wanted person for a prior arson and vandalism incident. Done.

A similar incident occurred in the Park District around 11 a.m. when Officer Chad Dagit was on patrol and dispatched to the 900 block of Baker Street on a report of an auto burglar operating in the area. The suspect was pointed out to Officer Dagit by a witness and so the “chase” began with the suspect on a bike and Chad in a marked unit. The suspect pedaled as hard as he could trying to lose Chad but that wasn’t going to, and didn’t, occur.

What did happen was our out-of-shape thief eventually gave up and Officer Dagit parked his car, updated Dispatch, and detained the suspect without incident. Pretty much all routine stuff except for the fact that the suspect had 4 Enroute warrants totaling $567,500 for theft and drug related offenses. That’s a subject for another day . . .

And, in completing the dumb crook submissions for this month we have to recognize the individual who broke into a car on Cole Street around 1:30 a.m. then fled. A witness called Dispatch and Officer Buddy Siguido and Officer Kamakana Alvaro responded. The officers were taking notes from the witness when he told the officers that 1 of the suspects was now approaching them on foot. A detention was made, and after further investigation, an arrest of an individual already on probation for robbery with a gun was in order.
A homicide occurred in the downtown area that was assigned to Inspector Mark Lee of the Homicide Detail. The victim had been assaulted and knocked to the pavement and never fully regained consciousness. Inspector Lee reached out to the other units for assistance in identifying the suspect involved. Turned out that Officer Giagini had a suspect in mind after reviewing the evidence available and realized that he had dealt with him on a reported rape. He related all the information to Inspector Lee and it wasn’t long after that that the suspect turned himself in for the fatal assault and was ultimately charged by the D.A.’s Office – imagine that . . .
You’re taught in the Academy to never let your guard down. No matter how routine a call for service might sound like, you need to stay alert.

It’s a good thing that Officer Brittney Taylor and Officer Kelly Castagnia did just that when they saw an individual operating his bike in a dangerous and illegal manner (i.e. driving on the sidewalk at midnight at a dangerous speed without a light in an operational business district) at which time they tried to slow him down so they could advise him properly.

The subject refused to yield to their requests and sped up even faster. Officer Taylor then left their patrol car and was able to follow the individual on foot. The subject in question finally stopped and proned himself out on the sidewalk announcing that he was armed.

In one second this scenario changed from the officers wanting to admonish this individual regarding the bike safety precautions he should be taking to removing a fully-loaded, Glock handgun that was available to him throughout this incident. (He was also in possession of illegal narcotics, a scale, and a lot of money no doubt illegally.)

That’s the really dangerous part of this job. Just when it looks like something is going to go one way, it can change in an instant. Officer Taylor and Officer Castagnia did an outstanding job utilizing their training and experience handling this incident while serving the people of The City and, in doing so, putting their lives on the line!!

The passenger on the Muni bus wasn’t bothering anyone when, all of a sudden he was attacked by another person and stabbed multiple times. Officer Christopher Prescott, Officer Michael DeFilippo, Officer Greg Bernardi, Officer Scott Phillips, Officer Nicholas Zerga, Officer Christopher Cassinelli, and Officer Michael Toomey all responded to where the incident took place at Steiner and Green Streets and immediately called for an ambulance as the male victim was bleeding substantially.
Officer Cassinelli immediately began first aid and applied pressure to the many wounds the victim had sustained trying to stop the bleeding. Officer Nicholas Zerga immediately began interviewing witnesses and broadcasting a description of the suspect. Due to the immediate first aid provided by the officers and the medical care he received at SFGH the victim survived.

Officer Phillips prepared an outstanding police report and Officer Toomey disseminated a department-wide crime bulletin containing film footage of the assault and the suspect.
The next day Officer Prescott worked his regular shift and was driving home in his personal car when he recognized the suspect wanted for the stabbing incident walking on McAllister Street wearing the same clothes and backpack he had on the day of the attack. So he immediately called Northern Station and alerted Office DeFilippo and Officer Bernardi who rushed to the area and detained the felon wanted for the brutal attack. The suspect was subsequently identified and booked for numerous felonies. Nice work!

Officer Ryan Prasadi, Officer Dillon Bortmas, Officer Ryan Gonzalez, Officer Horace Liu, and Officer John Murphy were on patrol in the Tenderloin district backing each other up when they noticed a car with paper plates that didn’t match the registration information. A traffic stop was conducted and revealed that the driver was a felon on CDC parole for aggravated assault. This individual had a search condition so the officers decided to exercise that waiver and found a fully-loaded, semi-automatic Glock in the vehicle along with drugs he shouldn’t have.

The suspect later gave a statement to the arresting officers admitting that he had purchased the weapon “for protection”.

How sad is that when even the criminal offenders taking over San Francisco also have to worry about their own safety. So it seems like they are taking matters into their own hands.
Actually, it’s not sad, it’s a fact.

Stay safe