Two separate SFPD scandals hit the fan at the same time, as two current officers were arrested for destroying evidence (including meth, allegedly) and a former officer was arrested for relieving the evidence room of a machine gun.
A pretty wild story broke Tuesday afternoon, and there will likely be some black eyes at the San Francisco police department. KRON4 reports that two current SFPD officers were arrested after warrants for them Friday for charges of destroying evidence, and both voluntarily surrendered to authorities today. Meanwhile, in what appears to be a completely unrelated case, a former SFPD officer who was still doing a little moonlighting with the department was arrested for embezzling a machine gun from the evidence room, according to the Chronicle.
“The actions of these SFPD members violate the law and regrettably fall far short of our department’s shared values,” SFPD Chief William Scott said in a statement. “As sworn police officers, we have no higher obligation than to earn and maintain public trust, and we are disappointed that these incidents detract from the outstanding work done by our officers and non-sworn members every day.
The machine gun arrest seems straightforward (and the gun's model is seen above). According to a press release from DA Chesa Boudin’s office, retired officer Mark Willams “was working, part-time, in the gun destruction unit of the Property Control Division at SFPD. At that time, SFPD was in the process of preparing 22 Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns for destruction. On August 9, 2021, an inventory of the weapons revealed that one of the weapons was not present and all division personnel were contacted to assist in the search for the missing MP5. Four days later, on August 13, Williams contacted the acting Lieutenant in the Property Control Division and confessed to having the weapon at his home in Napa. SFPD sergeants recovered the weapon without incident that day.”
So, this happened eight months ago? Maybe it takes awhile to prepare charges, but it sure sounds like they had a confession in August. Williams has been charged with unlawful possession of a machine gun, possession of a silencer, and embezzlement. According to the Chronicle, he “was terminated immediately,” though it’s unclear if that means “immediately” back in August, or “immediately” upon his arrest Tuesday.
There will probably be plenty more questions, though, about the two current officers’ destruction of evidence charges. Again, according to Boudin’s release: “employees at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis were looking for missing hotel property in the luggage of a guest who had been locked out of his room for non-payment when they discovered multiple credit cards, IDs, and suspected methamphetamine.”
“They called the police to report the suspected criminal activity and request that the evidence be collected. When Officers [Kevin] Lyons and [Kevin] Sien arrived at the hotel, they told hotel staff that cataloguing the evidence would take too long. Instead of collecting the items, the two disposed of the credit cards and IDs in a shred bin, and Officer Lyons flushed the drugs down a hotel toilet.”
That incident happened in July, and one can see logical reasons for a several-month delay before bringing criminal charges on current officers. But were these two just cutting corners, because the department is understaffed? Is there something more sinister at play? Did the drugs actually get flushed down the toilet?
And what is also quite odd here is that according to the Chronicle, both Lyons and Sien “were transferred to assignments that don’t involve contact with the public.” That sounds like they are still on the job, at full pay and benefits. Boudin’s office says that “All three arraignments are set for May 19, 2022.”
We may learn more on whether there is a reason that all three warrants were issued Friday, and all three suspected officers turned themselves in today. But now that Chesa Boudin is once again bringing criminal charges against SFPD officers, the acrimony between him and the police is only going to get worse.
Image: Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons