A man calling himself a "good Samaritan" who called 911 after finding a girl injured in a bicycling accident late one weekend night in SoMa has taken to the internet to describe what he considers unnecessarily rough and inhumane treatment by police and Sheriff's deputies upon his arrest for drunkenness and resisting arrest. It seems that in the course of police and medical personnel arriving on the scene, he found himself forcibly removed by police, detained, and ultimately put semi-naked in a "safety cell" for a few hours, ostensibly to await a psych evaluation.
In a lengthy essay about the experience, Paretz Partensky describes the ordeal that began, innocently enough, with him out for drinks last July with a friend at Driftwood on Folsom Street (the cocktail bar that until last year was known as a down-and-dirty gay leather bar that operated for about four decades under different names). He lives just a couple blocks away, and when he and his friend left the bar at around 12:45 a.m., after an alleged three drinks over three hours, they encountered a scene in which a guy and a girl had had a bicycle accident when the girl, riding on the handlebars, was thrown off, injuring her leg and chin.
According to Partensky, he called 911 and was told to remain on the scene until paramedics arrived. His friend, Ben, was helping support the injured girl's back and lent her his cell phone as she sat on the curb when police and paramedics arrived.
Ben was still supporting Rebecca’s back when Sgt. Espinoza and Officer Gabriel grabbed him from behind without warning, putting him in an arm lock and jerked him backwards over the pavement. They told him sternly that he had to leave now that trained medical professionals had arrived, implying that he was interfering and justifying their violent actions.
Partensky then said he became confused and was shocked by the actions of police, who asked him if he had witnessed the accident. When he said he hadn't, they told him he needed to leave the scene immediately. However, it sounds like he put up some protest and was now interested in both the injured girl's well being, and that of his friend who had been dragged across the street by cops.
What ensues, in his narrative, is the case of an innocent bystander asking a lot of questions who gets roughed up by officers who, possibly, resent the affluence of the residents of the city they protect (he claims one officer, when finding out he writes software for a living, said dismissively, "Ah, you're one of those billionaire wannabes in this neighborhood."), thrown in a police van, and taken to the county lock up to sober up, though he claims he was not drunk. Continuing to ask a lot of questions while in jail, and asking deputies repeatedly if he could see a doctor then got him put in a padded "safety cell" for the rest of the night where they forced him to strip down to his underwear. By morning, he was given a psych evaluation and released without charges. It's notable that his friend Ben, who was also forcibly removed by cops at first, was not arrested.
SFist contacted the SFPD for comment. Spokesman Albie Esparza explains that Partensky was arrested for interfering, resisting arrest, and public intoxication. According to police, he was both drunk and disruptive as police and fire department medical personnel arrived, he was told several times by officers to back up and remove himself. "If someone calls 911," Esparza says, "They are expected only to be a good witness, and to obey anything they're told to do by arriving officers." During Partensky's ensuing detention, one officer sustained an injury when Partensky allegedly swung his elbow and struck the officer in the eye. That there probably led to his subsequent poor treatment, though Esparza says he can not comment on what happened while Partensky was in the custody of the Sheriff's Department overnight.
Partensky claims he was told the next morning by a deputy who was discharging him that he shouldn't have been jailed and "there are a lot of young cops on the street, trying to make a name for themselves." He's now filed a complaint with SF Office of Citizen Complaints for his rough treatment, and the lessons he concludes with include "Don't call 911," and "Consider wearing a video camera at all times" to protect yourself from police brutality.
There is also the lesson of "don't talk back to police or be a nuisance after you've had a few drinks," but granted, nobody needs to be treated like a criminal just for being a little drunk and in the way.
Update: I thought the name sounded familiar... I just figured out that Mr. Partensky is also one of the founders of Langton Labs, the communal living compound that was described in this recent NYT piece on new-style communes. He's quoted several times and described as having been "born in the Soviet Union and lived in a refugee community in Italy as a child."