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Police department is just. One. Less invested. As one. Among. Them and they can away with it rarely get disciplined. Good evening I'm ginger Casey. The police we think of them as the guardians of our safety. But some critics say they abuse the badge and the authority we entrust to them. The charges police brutality and it's being leveled at San Francisco cops a firestorm of criticism erupted last September after police chief Frank Jordan refused to discipline
the officer accused of beating Labor leader Dolores Huerta during a demonstration in Union Square. But the problems within San Francisco's police force go much deeper. Express has spent months poring over court records of lawsuits against the police department and talking with dozens of community leaders. Spencer Michaels narrates our report. It's all happening now a story George I want you to join. In your time. There are brutal officers there. There is no doubt. It's a very very scary. People are intimidated at gun point. That have not violated the law. Dan Silva resigned three weeks ago as the city's top watchdog for police misconduct. I think that there's a general feeling in the department that even if you get caught breaking the rules that it may be two years before you're held
accountable if you're held accountable at all in the last decade. Only 10 San Francisco police officers have been publicly disciplined for using unnecessary force. But during the same period hundreds of officers have been sued for police brutality costing the city millions of dollars. And these lawsuits are just the tip of the iceberg. Many of. The abuses that take place are taking place in a Against Street people against very powerless people. People in the ghetto people who do not speak English. People who are afraid to go through the channels of power. In order to make complaints. That's where most of the complaints happen you don't hear about. The vast majority of and I doubt that you hear of one in a hundred. I don't feel that the censorship place Department is having an inordinate amount of lawsuits and nor do I feel that the officers out in the street are overly aggressive in what they're trying to do. It. Was poor judgment for our overly aggressive. After the way the chief
handled the beating of Dolores Huerta last fall. Many doubt his claim. The chief says Officer Frank H-m was following proper procedure when he hit. Where to. And if history is any indication the roughing up protesters is standard procedure. 906 San Francisco City Hall. The House Un-American Activities Committee holds hearings to search for subversives and Khan. The police are called in to clear the. Protest. In 1968 the Vietnam war raging and the tax bomb squad gets a baptism of fire during the strike at San Francisco State.
One thousand seventy seven refused to leave the condemned international hotel. Police clear out demonstrators so the evictions can begin. 1979. Angry mobs around city hall after Dan White receives a light sentence for the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Police break up the crowd attacking protesters and reporters allowed to have the crowd retaliates by burning police car seat. The. 1984. San Francisco welcomes the Democrats outside the convention hall. The tax protesters are a different the hospitality. Group plan to meet. Yet another demonstration planned the US were to. Clean a structure when hit by a police baton It was the procedure not the actions of Officer Frank. That led to the injury.
Of the department placed restrictions on the use of the times. She refused to discipline. That requirement or stuck up for one of those officers. It was a very positive sign because we haven't seen a lot of that in that year through the years like that. And the men are really going to be the chief's decision not to discipline flew in the face of the conclusion by the Office of citizen complaints the Ossi C was created in 1900 to by voters who had lost faith in the ability of the police department to investigate itself in the WHERE TO case the included officer used excessive force and recommended disciplinary action. What the chief said repeatedly is that this officer used proper technique to this day nine months after divorce was almost killed. He has not addressed what the OCZ found namely the department's use of force policy was violated. Don't hit people harder than is necessary use the minimal degree of
force necessary. And that hasn't even been addressed. Police and demonstrators clashed again outside the federal building just two weeks after Jordan's decision not to discipline officer when undercover officers started making arrests small riot broke out was once again. Demonstrators charge the police were out of control. But at a press conference where our ag nose defended the cops. I'm not here today right. I am here to say that I am proud of the restraint shown by our police department and the line officers who are on duty working at the federal building. Some officers are making arrests. Others acted as though they were most concerned with preventing those arrests from being with us. This undercover officer Sergeant Rene law provided the camera man who shot
this video. A legal observer from the National Lawyers Guild and another woman bystander The O.C. see did not sustain a complaint against Officer or at most from the Mason of the legal observer. Unfortunate that the mayor defended the police before an investigation was held angers the ACLU is John crew. The message seems to be that we're going to back you up no matter what. Now that sends the message that everything's acceptable that this this behavior. Most complaints about cops beating up people don't involve demonstrators and they are made by such well-known people as Delores in the black Latino and gay community whose police brutality has been a problem for years
a problem made new again by the war on drugs. The Sunnydale project where every group of kids on the corner becomes a gang and every conversation is seen as a drug deal going down. Young black males know the police and well. Living life in general. Tough. Right. So you just. Want to hear that song you want so you can go no no no no the fuck the SEC just gotta check on this guy. Sorry I have to have my intimidation and fear are their tools. And I believe that that is the current philosophy of their
supervisors or their captains or lieutenants and their sergeants and that is in fact. The tools that they use up there. So you're saying that this is actually something that the department is doing consciously. Absolutely the police came out and they caught a young man over there they would beat him too young man said Hey stop beat me up and they took them to jail. I'm not saying that if only one of the little girls were doing something illegal or going to jail but you do not have to take them to the store. Everybody that shows up. I think that's wrong. And I don't know that but we're going to have to look for the crew and the police are closely one more time. There. I've seen mixed signals from the community and half of the room tell me that they are over very and it has left the series to really aggressively are making arrests and there's you know my children were not happy with what you're doing and the other half of it will tell us wait a minute there are not enough police officers out here and we have why we feel unsafe to go to the store and we want you to come out here and
make more arrests. But Chief Jordan won't directly answer charges that are at least have roughed up kids hanging out on the street corner. They're there to get you back your streets. This isn't something that we're having in there as a domineering overbearing army of occupation. Community suspicion of the police is already high fuel by a history of at least misconduct court files for the last 10 years or littered with acids. Police were beating and abusing people for no apparent reason. Express has examined more than 300 lawsuits spanning the last 10 years. Our investigation reveals a clear pattern. That Public records show the police officers involved are rarely if ever disciplined even if the city settles or lives the last December 1982 Sergeant Greg Corolla stops cab driver James son long run. Son claims the officer hits him on the head with a flashlight and chokes him until he loses consciousness. Officer Corollas says Son assaults him after he issues a
parking ticket. Charges of resisting arrest and assault on a police officer are dismissed. The city pays song $45000 Corrales is not disciplined for the incident. August 1983 six police officers burst into the Hughes home in the Western edition without producing a war. The EU's claim they are physically and verbally abused while police tear the place apart two hours later officers discover they are in the wrong apartment. The city gives the Hughes $15000 Public records show none of the officers is disciplined. March 1984 Lola Collins was ordered to move away while she watches the fight. Our department battle a blaze near her home in the Engle Side district. She doesn't move quickly enough for the officer who tries to move or physically. Collins is charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
Rather she started resisting both charges are dropped. An arbitrator awards Collins twelve thousand five hundred dollars in damages. The city refuses to pay. And Collins lawsuit is still pending. Officer Steve Edmonds is not disciplined for his actions. December 1986 after a night of drinking at Trader Vic's and the owl Tree Tavern attorney Ronald Sousa and friends are stopped by two police officers on the sidewalk and told to disperse. A second patrol car arrives. Souza claims he is jumped and beaten by the three late arriving officers. He is treated at the hospital for his injuries. Charges of resisting arrest are dropped. The city gives Souza thirty three thousand dollars despite an official finding that the officers used unnecessary force. No officers are disciplined. April 1988 Yvonne Miller claims police forced their way into her apartment in Hunters Point to find themselves or showing a search warrant.
This is Miller says the police team led by Sergeant Crenshaw holds a shotgun to the head of her 11 year old son. While officers search for drugs police deny the allegation. After an hour. Officers discover they're in the wrong apartment. A lawsuit is pending. None of the officers is disciplined. I'm not seeing what you're talking about here as an overall problem in the police department at all. I think Chief Jordan says Each case must be looked at individually. It's easy later to look at it in a court of law and second guess who is right and who's wrong. Those officers are making decisions out there using the best judgment they know how at the time. But when producers tried to raise some specific cases with the Chief Jordan said he couldn't recall the details. Maybe the best way to handle it so I could deal with it properly is if you give me a handful give me four or five and I'll give you an exact example of what I feel we did to handle each one of them. Very happy to do that. But I have a control team that I
would sit down with and we'll go over each case as to what we've done so we can clearly show you at least that we don't ignore cases of excessive force. So we gave the chief a list of forty nine cases and he referred us to the police legal department. But when we sat down with them we were told the department is prohibited by law from discussing disciplinary actions. The fact the chief is well aware. Since Frank Jordan became police chief almost four years ago the Ossi C has received more than fifteen hundred complaints of police brutality. Almost as many as Los Angeles. The O.C. see has recommended discipline in 27 of those complaints. The chief has acted on less than half of those. He brought five officers up on charges before the police commission five other officers he suspended for less than 10 days. One officer was reprimanded. Of the other 16 0 cc cases no official action has yet been taken.
The flaw in the system is that the San Francisco Police Commission. Currently it is their policy that OSI see investigations go to the chief or his designee in the department and they weigh the findings of both CC and in my mind. That's like putting you know the fox in charge of the chicken coop. This chief of police spends a lot of time in disciplinary hearings himself and I don't think every disciplinary case that comes before the chief of police should automatically come to this commission. Because I think this commission becomes a full time position and then I think you're talking about civilians actually running the police department. And I don't think civilians should be running the police department I think we should be overseeing it. Commissioner Gerardo says the number of lawsuits filed against the city for brutality is not unusual for a big city department. Our investigation found that most police departments don't make statistics on the use of excessive force available. Of the two hundred twenty six lawsuits which have been resolved in San Francisco in the last
decade the city has paid in 60 to pursue. To the tune of more than 3 million dollars. Just looking at the bare numbers and the fact that a case was saddled does not automatically and should not lead to the conclusion that the officer involved was guilty of misconduct it just simply isn't the case according to the city attorney the unpredictability of juries and large attorneys fees make it smarter for the city to settle cases even when they think the officers involved aren't guilty. In the situations that police officers are and they are situations where very often the people involved are going to say I what do they have to lose. If you go live in San Francisco because I want to flee. Petrified. Me. Carlos Jones he's suing the city because he says he was beaten up four years ago by this man. Officer Roland wing wing was
taken in Jones BMW for blocking the sidewalk as it sat here in the driveway of John's apartment building in the hate. To Ask You know what the hell are you doing and I said if this any day you want to know about this vehicle parked this car tell me I said I'm legit right at this time show me some ID my ideas opinion ideas in the house you want me to go get it you know show me an idea into your black ass in jail. At that point I got nervous because I knew I had my I.D. He was not let me go in the house. So I'll have a cigarette right. And as a producer I'm out here in the US. He snapped a serum a mile to it down the squash and you look at me. Oh my God. I saw a deer I saw it coming. And at that time you know I just kind of braced. I mean I really did the scene swung around. John says he was shoved up against his car. Then he says Officer wing hit him on the neck and need him in the back before placing the handcuffs on.
Bill Maher is at the same time I don't know nobody can be right. He put the handcuffs on me and I don't know man free him when he generally your man like me to be handcuffed and be is some you are never forgiven you long as you can live in scuse my mouth I'm sorry but as long as you live near so many of tied down beats you know forget it to. Forget. Officer wing brought Jones here to park station for interfering with a police officer. Jones claims wing subjected him to an hour of physical and verbal abuse in front of other officers before being released. In fact in the very. Same boy you know I come from picture of Eastside boy you know every time you see me on a speech I respect you know. Really been in Memphis been in my wrist. I mean instantly saw him when he wanted to do is put me on my knees and that's what he did because I had to subdue to the pain I can stand of no longer you
know. It's. Time he snatched me up again. See it hit me in the quiet period from you high kicking my legs apart right. I saw some in horses some offices. You know the ones who didn't want to have dealings with it they got up and left. Officer Roland wing refused an interview with Express but in a court deposition wing's said he told Jones his girlfriend the Jones attitude put him in jail wing never filed charges against Jones because it was more work. Jones parking ticket was thrown out by a Judge Jones lawsuit against the city goes to trial in October. The O.C. see ruled that officer wing used unnecessary force against JONES But four years later disciplinary charges against Officer wing are still pending. You know he's an attorney like that and if it was me. I would be in the beauty industry right now. So whatever it takes for me to see that justice is brought to this cop I will do.
But even a successful lawsuit doesn't mean police officers will be held accountable. Take the case of Walter Young. I know that it is wrong. Car at the wrong neighborhood it was the wrong color so I got rid of the BMW I got rid of in a sense Francisco jury awarded Walter Young two hundred three thousand dollars because of his encounter with ESF PD. One night in April 1983 Young was double parked in the tender line waiting while his sister in law entered the hotel. Officers David Rios and Spencer Gregory pulled him over. Asked the officer that. Was my identification OK. They started getting the flak. Then one of the officers looked at me and said I don't like the whole we don't like something like. The two officers arrested young. A San Francisco municipal bus driver for not
carrying his driver's license. They abandoned Young's 13 year old son in the middle of the Tenderloin at 1:00 in the morning. Young was brought here to Central Station where he was beaten in a holding cell by several officers. Young remembers one officer kicking him in the head repeatedly. Hours later he was transferred to the county jail here in the hall of justice where he again was beaten. Young suffers from lupus a disease of the immune system found among blacks. Those kicks to the head reactivated the disease which had been in remission. For racism. I couldn't believe it happening to me. I couldn't believe it happening in fact. Scott. I couldn't believe that they would do something like that in front of my kids and I asked him not to. Get beat your brains out in a comic feel like. Susan Rubenstein is Walter Young's attorney. One would think that a jury verdict of two hundred three thousand dollars.
Provoke the city to take some action. It's been very frustrating. To us in this case that absolutely no. Action has been taken against the officers. That have caused watch reality suffer such severe injury. And the injuries have been very severe. I mean the conduct in my view was criminal cases a loss doesn't that mean that an officer is guilty of misconduct. It may or may not think the jury could be wrong. The jury can be wrong again that's up to the police chief and the police commission to take a look at. I think too I am speculating at this point that at some point I think that. A police chief or a police commissioner have to be inspected and they do have to take a look at was the conduct of the officer reasonable under the circumstances. And maybe in hindsight you wouldn't want the officer to do that you say like in the future don't do it. But the other thing is too that I
suspect that you don't want to have a group of such timid people that they're not doing the job. The thing is that the officers in this city feel they can engage in those types of conduct without the slightest hesitation without the slightest has it without the slightest fear that there will be any retribution because there never has been any retribution. The problems within the department are reflected in the records of these officers patrolman Jones of whether I'm an 11 year veteran named in six lawsuits in six years. His record won jury verdict of $65000 three suits settled by the city one dismissed one suit pending officer weatherman has never been brought before the police commission for discipline on any of these cases. He received a two day suspension in one case not for brutality but for losing a citation. Sergeant Kip Crenshaw 11 year veteran assigned to narcotics named in
eight lawsuits in eight years his record for settlements one dismissal one acquittal two suits pending. Sergeant Crenshaw has never appeared before the police commission for these cases. Lieutenant Greg corral us a 20 year veteran he has received 110 complaints in his career 43 for unnecessary force corellas has been named in 16 lawsuits both as a patrol officer and as a supervisor. The city has paid out a total of four hundred eight thousand dollars in those lawsuits. Lieutenant Corollas has never received any discipline for any of these incidents of alleged brutality. But lawsuits don't tell the whole story. Officer James Le susah and his partner JAMES MCGUINNESS were named in one lawsuit the city settled for $30000 at the time of that lawsuit in one thousand eighty six internal police department documents show that LE Sousse had 14 complaints of unnecessary force
and that McGuinness had nine complaints. Listen McGuinness have not been before the police commission on charges of using excessive force. None of these officers would consent to be interviewed by express. I can't deal with something that happened before I was chief of police and I couldn't now discipline and double check somebody else's background and go back 10 nine eight seven six years ago and start to sway people. I have to deal with it as the issues come up to my desk. The ACLU is not asking the mayor for instance or the chief to say we've got the worst apartment in the nation you know or we've got every single officer is terrible that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about some basic recognition that there is a segment in the department not a majority but a significant segment that is causing a lot of problems. The police department acts as if they're in a vacuum you know that they're the only people can decide what's right and what's wrong and the rest of us are just participants at their party.
Episode Number
Shield for Abuse
Producing Organization
KQED-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
KQED (San Francisco, California)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
Express Show #641 Air Master CITIZEN ABUSE BY SF POLICE, Studio Show
Episode Description
"SHIELD FOR ABUSE is an investigation into police brutality in San Francisco. At a time when local press was only focusing on controversial police crowd control policies, the producers of SHIELD FOR ABUSE discovered the City had an even bigger problem with police violence. Individual police officers on the street, in patrol cars, and working undercover were beating up and abusing citizens for no apparent reason -- and nothing was being done about it. After poring over the more than 300 lawsuits filed against the San Francisco Police Department [charging] brutality in a ten year period, the producers found the City had lost or settled nearly 65% of these suits, paying out more than $3 million to victims of police brutality. While these victims covered the range of [social] classes and ethnic groups, the majority were poor minorities. A clear pattern of emerged -- even when juries found police officers guilty of beating people, the officers involved were rarely, if ever, disciplined by the police department. Interviews with the City Attorney and the Police Chief show that the City has little regard for the justice system in these matters, [maintaining] that only cops could determine if cops had done something wrong -- an attitude critics charge allows, if not encourages, use of excessive force by police. The documentary details many brutality cases and names officers who are repeatedly sued for brutality but never disciplined. After the program aired, there was a [shakeup] in the Police department's Internal Affairs department, the Police Chief pledged to clear up a backlog of disciplinary cases, and the Mayor announced changes in the civilian police review process that would take some of the disciplinary powers out of the Police Chief's hands and give it to the politically appointed Police Commission."--1989 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producer: Lewis Cohen
Producing Organization: KQED-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 36-317-3;36967 (KQED)
Format: application/mxf
Duration: 0:30:34
Identifier: cpb-aacip-55-49t1gt0f (GUID)
Format: 1 inch videotape
Generation: Master
Duration: 0:30:34
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: 89097dct-arch (Peabody Object Identifier)
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Chicago: “Express; 641; Shield for Abuse,” 1989-00-00, KQED, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Express; 641; Shield for Abuse.” 1989-00-00. KQED, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Express; 641; Shield for Abuse. Boston, MA: KQED, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from