The attorney representing a San Francisco Police officer whom District Attorney Chesa Boudin charged with assault and battery on Monday has shot back with a statement saying her client acted "lawfully" in the 2019 incident in question.
Boudin announced the charges on Monday against Officer Terrance Stangel stemming from an October 6, 2019 encounter in which Stangel and his partner, Officer Cuahtemoc Martinez, were called to the scene of what a witness allegedly described as a domestic violence incident. The incident happened during Fleet Week last fall, when 32-year-old Dacari Spiers says he had come to Pier 39 to watch the air show with his girlfriend and cousin. That evening, near the intersection of Powell and Beach streets, Stangel and Martinez were responding to a report of a person being strangled.
According to Boudin, and per an earlier federal lawsuit filed by Spiers in February, Spiers and his girlfriend were leaning on a car and were possibly in an "embrace" or "standing close to each other and talking" when the two officers approached them. Boudin said in a statement Monday that body-cam footage does not show any violence taking place, and only shows Spiers and his girlfriend questioning police about why they were being confronted.
Martinez allegedly ordered Spiers to turn around and tried to grab him, and then Stangel allegedly hit Spiers from behind with his baton as Martinez brought him to the ground, delivering more subsequent blows to Spiers' legs. Subsequently, as the Examiner reports, Spiers was not arrested or charged with any crime, but reportedly had significant injuries from the beating.
"This case is an example of an officer unnecessarily escalating a situation and then violently beating a Black man whom he had no legal basis to even arrest,” Boudin said in a statement. “Officers who not only fail to promote safety but actively harm others must — and in my administration will — be held accountable.”
In a statement, Spiers said, "As an African American male, many times people call the police on you just because they have a bad opinion or they like to profile Black men." And an attorney for Spiers, Jamir Davis, tells the Examiner, "Our client wasn’t doing anything that was illegal, but he was immediately treated like a criminal."
Attorney Nicole Pifari, who spoke on the officers' behalf when the federal lawsuit was filed in February, tells NBC Bay Area that the officers acted lawfully and were "attempting to protect the public from a potentially dangerous situation" when they approached and subdued Spiers." She also mentions the allegation that there was racial bias in the initial phone report by a female witness to police about the incident.
"The evidence shows she is a Black woman," Pifari says. "Everyone in San Francisco should be concerned the DA can't get his facts straight and is attempting to frame an innocent officer who was doing what society asks of him — protect the public," Pifar continued. "We will provide accurate information to the public and the courts that will clear Officer Stangel of these false and malicious accusations from the DA."
Tony Montoya, the often controversial president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, told the Examiner Monday, "The District Attorney is doing all he can to try this case in the public and not the courtroom and he’s withholding all of the facts while doing so. Boudin is more interested in headline chasing than administering justice in a fair and impartial manner."
The charges against Stangel mark the third high-profile case being brought by Boudin's office in the last three weeks against SFPD officers. In late November, Boudin filed manslaughter charges against former rookie SFPD Officer Christopher Samayoa for the December 2017 fatal shooting of 42-year-old Keita O'Neil, who was an unarmed suspect in a carjacking. And last week, Boudin announced that a grand jury had returned an indictment against another rookie SFPD officer, Christopher Flores, for the December 2019 shooting of Jamaica Hampton — though it remains unclear what charges, if any, Boudin will file against Flores, and the grand jury also indicted Hampton on unspecified charges in the same altercation that led to him being shot.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images