In a somewhat curious statement, the attorney representing San Francisco sheriff's deputy Michael Lewelling who was arrested on December 19 in connection with some apparent brutality against a man with a cane in a waiting room at SF General says the charges against his client are politically motivated.
There is surveillance video showing the suspect, Lewelling, approaching the victim who was apparently asleep in a chair around 5 a.m. on November 3. After some words were exchanged, the video showed the man attempting to walk away and Lewelling shoving back into the chair and knocking away his cane. The video then apparently shows Lewelling grabbing the man by the collar and choking him before placing him under arrest, apparently for loitering?
Lewelling is charged with five felonies including perjury, filing a false police report, filing a false instrument, and assault under the color of authority, as well as misdemeanor battery. Lewelling allegedly lied in subsequent reports about the incident until the video ultimately surfaced.
Lewelling pleaded not guilty in court on Friday, despite turning himself in a week earlier after the video surfaced. His lawyer, Harry Stern tells KRON4, "It's not a case, for example, that should be charged with five felonies. And I don't think there's any question given the politics and the politicians involved that the charging of this case in this manner is a product of the current climate... that's political, that has to do with police officers trying to do their jobs."
Video doesn't lie, however, and roughing up a guy with a cane who was asleep in a chair in a hospital doesn't, on the surface, sound like just an innocent officer trying to do his job.