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Nine for Nothing

August 1, 2023
Tracy McCray - SFPOA President

Often, people that I know and many that I don’t know personally, send all kinds of information to me. Some of this communication is in the form of a funny text, meme, video, or tweet from social media. Full disclosure, I have no social media accounts, none in my name or a fake name. We have a public relations firm that handles our social media accounts for the SFPOA. I coordinate with them on things to push out and of course I have final approval on all official communications that are sent by the SFPOA. Unlike the police department, I don’t have a PIO (Press Information Officer), nor do I have full-time staff dedicated to mining for positive stories daily that highlight the great work that the men and women I represent are doing.

Frequently, I get updates on cases that seem to have fallen through the cracks, some that I have been involved in personally, and others that hope to get an extra set of eyes on them, to bring that story to light. Sometimes there is a story that is sent to me that I am astounded by. For example, a story that has taken a puzzling turn, or where there is an outcome that is so surprising it gives you pause. In this one, the sheer length of time that this case has been languishing is truly shocking as is its outcome.

Nine years ago, in 2013, a young officer was run over during a traffic stop at 3:30 am. The young officer and his partner were working Violence Reduction overtime during a violent week of crime in the Bayview. The driver had a warrant and when they went to arrest him, he slammed the car into drive and took off with the officers on either side of the car. The young officer got thrown from the passenger side of the car and his legs run over. The perpetrator was able to elude police that day, but the next day was apprehended by police. Thankfully, the young officer did not suffer serious physical injuries. The perpetrator was held to answer during the preliminary hearing and the motion to suppress. This was prior to body worn cameras being implemented. I will reiterate that this happened in 2013. Body worn cameras were implemented in 2017.

Nine years later the case is being dismissed. Let that sink in. Case dismissed. So, the perpetrator is free to go and not being held to answer. From what I gather, the Assistant District Attorney’s reasoning to the officer was that nine years have passed since the incident and the burden of proof is much different for a trial than for a preliminary hearing, (probable cause) and that pesky motion to suppress is all about a potential 4th Amendment violation (search & seizure) by an officer. Both those hurdles were cleared nine years ago. Now it seems that the prosecution feels that 12 jurors would not be able to convict after nine years because as they put it, there is no corroborated evidence such as body worn camera of the incident and that chances of getting a guilty verdict in a jury trial in San Francisco is almost zero! Yes, folks you read that correctly a sitting ADA told an officer that there was ZERO chance of getting 12 jurors to render a guilty verdict! Guess the ADA doesn’t want their winning streak for convictions marred with a loss. What kind of world are we living in? So, the testimony under oath of an officer who was violently run over by a person with an outstanding warrant is not good enough today? It was good enough nine years ago but not today. What about a victim that isn’t a police officer, but a mother, daughter, father, brother etc? What if they are a regular person whose life got upended by crime? A victim of a shooting, robbery or assault? No video of the crime, so I guess it doesn’t exist. Their word under oath on the stand means nothing.

That the Public Defender in this case was able to stall for nine years is amazing in itself, through three DAs. Someone has to say it, so I will. This is an epic failure for our whole judicial system especially from the judges and the prosecutors who have been involved in the case. I guess this confirms a chapter in the playbook from the Public Defender’s Office, stall, stall, stall while playing that card about wanting a speedy trial for their clients. This case isn’t an anomaly, this is happening all the time. Even well before the pandemic, the delays to bring perpetrators to be held to answer for their crimes was getting ground to a halt in our courts.

We have a perpetrator who will not be held accountable, a victim who will never have a chance to face the person responsible for injuring them, and a system that is leaving many victims scratching their heads about what justice looks like. Not like this is anything new in the criminal court system in San Francisco, where it seems that cases are dismissed, or if you consider yourself lucky, a deal is made without the victim’s cooperation or approval that gets cases swept conveniently under the rug. Case dismissed in the interest of justice has got to be the biggest lie uttered in the criminal justice world of San Francisco.