San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced a new policy on Monday aimed at correcting the wrongs of over-policing and unjust prosecutions of people of color.
Moving forward, Boudin says his office will no longer file charges in cases that rely solely on testimony from law enforcement officers with a history of racial bias, misconduct, excessive use of force, dishonesty, or discrimination of any kind. And under the new policy, the DA's office's Trial Integrity Unit will be creating a list of all officers with documented histories of any of the above.
"We have seen across the country repeated instances of police violence inflicted upon people of color and the Black community — often by officers with prior known misconduct, yet whose words prosecutors continued to trust in filing charges," Boudin says in a statement. "This directive ensures that members of the public are not wrongly or unfairly accused by officers whom we know have displayed the kind of misconduct that permanently damages their credibility or the trust we place in them."
As KPIX reports, Boudin is having a public conversation with Police Chief Bill Scott at Manny's in the Mission Tuesday evening to discuss the new policy — though the meeting won't feature the usual packed-in crowd, and will instead be broadcast on Facebook Live.
The move will no doubt be seen as another shot across the bow to the police union, which last week was engaged in a Twitter war with the SFMTA that also stemmed from the national conversation about use of force, defunding the police, and police misconduct.
Boudin announced another new policy last week that extends compensation and other aid to the families of victims of police violence, including the coverage of funeral expenses and mental health services.
"People shouldn’t have to rely on a GoFundMe page to pay for the funeral of their son or daughter when they’ve been killed by law enforcement," Boudin said.
Boudin, who was elected district attorney in November and took office earlier this year after previously serving in the public defender's office, is part of a trend in urban parts of America where former defense attorneys are taking new roles as progressive DAs. His parents, both radical activists, were jailed for their roles in the 1981 Weather Underground Brink’s truck robbery that killed a security guard and two police officers, and his father remains behind bars. Since his campaign last year, Boudin has pledged to correct the wrongs of law enforcement and the country's tarnished history of mass incarceration, beginning with the end of prosecutions for many non-violent crimes.
Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered a video address at Boudin's swearing-in ceremony in January, saying, “It is uncommon for a former public defender to become a district attorney of a major city like San Francisco. Especially a district attorney who spent his childhood visiting parents incarcerated for committing serious felonies."
Boudin also launched a podcast last week called Chasing Justice, and today's episode is titled, "Race, Policing, and Protest."