Officer Terrance Stangel is on trial for felony assault and battery in the case of a 2019 Fisherman’s Wharf beating, and on Wednesday he became the first SFPD officer to have to testify in his own defense in a trial for an on-duty assault.
San Francisco’s first criminal trial for excessive force by an on-duty police officer is wrapping up its third week, but developments outside the courtroom have largely overshadowed the trial. A claim that District Attorney Chesa Boudin withheld evidence that would have exonerated the officer has led the SFPD to pull out of an agreement with the DA that allows the DA’s office to investigate use-of-force cases, and state attorney General Rob Bonta is trying to mediate their war of words and legal disputes.
On Wednesday, the SFPD and DA agreed to extend their agreement or memo of understanding (MOU) for 60 days, and meanwhile the two sides will engage an independent mediator to settle their dispute.
Officer Terrance Stangel took the stand Wednesday, telling jurors that he pulled his baton and struck Dacari Spiers to protect himself and his partner from being hurt. #SanFrancisco @SFPD https://t.co/KI00jTMOhb— KTVU (@KTVU) February 24, 2022
Amidst all of this, the charged officer Terrance Stangel took the stand for the first time Wednesday, as KTVU reports. Stangel is charged with felony assault and battery for a 2019 Fisherman’s Wharf beating beating that left a suspect, Dacari Spiers, with a broken wrist and leg (see below). But police were responding to a 911 call alleging that Spiers was beating up his girlfriend, and during three hours of testimony Wednesday, Mission Local reports that Stangel said in his own defense that he “believed every single baton strike at the time was necessary."
As seen in the above image, taken after the beating obviously, the suspect Spiers is a very large man. Officer Stangel described Spiers as being like a “a pissed-off NFL player” in his testimony, and said that Spiers was attacking his partner, Officer Cuauhtémoc Martínez. “As I tried to grab a hold of [Spiers], he just ripped me off,” Stangel said.
After weeks of sitting silently in the courtroom, SFPD Officer Terrance Stangel took the witness stand in his own defense today, and said he “believed every single baton strike at the time was necessary.”— Mission Local (@MLNow) February 24, 2022
From @miss_elenius https://t.co/sh7DYMTcgS
Prosecutors got their cross-examination, though, and pointed out that Stangel and Spiers are roughly the same height, that Stangel too played football in high school and junior college, and passes rigorous fitness requirements for the SFPD. Prosecutors also maintain that Spiers had not been seen engaged in any violence before officers became physical with him.
The prosecution has already rested its case in the trial, and closing arguments are expected to begin Monday. Spiers has separately been awarded $700,000 in a civil settlement for the beating, but even that settlement has been a political hot potato among the Board of Supervisors, as this case continues to fan flames of a public-relations war between the DA and the SFPD.
Image: Bodycam via SFPD