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SAN FRANCISCO Appeals court voids charges against police in teen's

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  • Iolmisha@cs.com
    SAN FRANCISCO Appeals court voids charges against police in teen s Posted by: jaysonw2002 jayson.wechter@sfgov.org jaysonw2002 Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:33 pm (PST)
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2007
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      SAN FRANCISCO Appeals court voids charges against police in teen's

      Posted by: "jaysonw2002" jayson.wechter@... jaysonw2002

      Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:33 pm (PST) SAN FRANCISCO
      Appeals court voids charges against police in teen's death
      Ruling says the city waited too long after 1998 incident to file
      complaints against the 4 officers
      - Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
      Wednesday, January 17, 2007

      A state appeals court ordered dismissal of disciplinary charges
      Tuesday against four San Francisco police officers accused of
      misconduct in the fatal shooting of a teenage girl, saying the city
      had waited too long to file the charges.

      The First District Court of Appeal did not address the Office of
      Citizen Complaints
      ' claim that two of the officers had fired their
      guns without justification and that all four lied during the
      investigation of the May 1998 shooting of 17-year-old Sheila Detoy.
      Instead, the court said the city had missed the one-year deadline for
      disciplinary cases during a long wrangle between then-Police Chief
      Fred Lau and the department's civilian overseers.

      In a separate ruling, the court allowed disciplinary charges to
      proceed against five other San Francisco officers over a confrontation
      in Hunters Point
      five years ago in which one of the officers, Nicholas
      , allegedly used
      racial slurs when speaking to an African
      American woman who was protesting her daughter's treatment

      In that case, the court said the one-year deadline was extended by a
      civil suit against the officers that was still pending when the
      disciplinary charges were filed in April 2003.

      In the 1998 incident, the four officers -- Gregory Breslin, Michael
      Moran, Peter Siragusa and James Zerga
      -- went to a
      Lake Merced
      apartment complex
      to arrest a suspected drug dealer, Raymondo Cox.
      They saw Cox get into a car driven by Michael Negron. Breslin and
      Moran said Negron had driven at them as they tried to block the car in
      the driveway, and said they had
      fired in self-defense.

      One of Breslin's bullets hit Detoy, a passenger, who was not a suspect.

      Negron pleaded guilty to manslaughter in causing Detoy's death. The
      district attorney's office found no criminal wrongdoing by the
      officers. But the Office of Citizen Complaints, the city's police
      watchdog agency, conducted an investigation and recommended
      disciplinary charges against Breslin and Moran, for firing without
      justification, and against all four officers for allegedly
      misrepresenting the facts to investigators and in court testimony.

      Lau, the police chief, opposed the charges, but was eventually ordered
      to file them by the city's Police Commission in June 2002.

      Superior Court Judge James Warren refused to dismiss the charges in
      2005, saying the one-year deadline had been extended by the criminal
      investigation, the involvement of multiple agencies and a civil suit
      by Detoy's mother against Breslin and the city, which was settled for
      $505,000 in November 2000.

      But the appeals court, in a 3-0 ruling, said the city had no valid
      excuse for the delay
      . The court said the Police Commission had
      authority over both Lau and the Office of Citizen Complaints and could
      have ordered them to coordinate their efforts so that the charges
      could have been filed more quickly.

      The one-year deadline was set by state law "to encourage the diligent
      investigation and charging of police officers alleged to have engaged
      in misconduct,'' said Justice Timothy Reardon.

      E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@....

      ©2007 San Francisco Chronicle

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      Suspects as Usual / NYPD opened a surprising investigation--into th

      Posted by: "Iolmisha@..." Iolmisha@... isfonelove

      Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:34 pm (PST) The Sean Bell Shooting -- 'Suspects as Usual'
      Date: 1/14/2007 6:49:00 PM Pacific Standard Time
      From: moderator@...
      To: PORTSIDE@...
      Received from Internet: click here for more information

      Suspects as Usual

      After the Sean Bell shooting, the NYPD opened a
      surprising investigation--into the victims
      by Sean Gardiner
      January 9th, 2007 1:09 PM

      Thirteen hours after Sean Bell was killed and his two
      friends were wounded in a barrage of 50 bullets, Police
      Commissioner Raymond Kelly held a press conference to
      explain what led to his cops shooting the unarmed men
      in their car.

      During his detailed description of the November 25 pre-
      dawn shooting on Liverpool Street, near a Queens strip
      joint, Kelly noted, "There may have been a fourth
      individual in the car who fled." Even as he said it,
      there were two investigations under way: There was the
      standard probe by the Queens district attorney's office
      and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau into the
      shooting, but there was also a separate investigation
      by police bent on finding this "fourth man" and
      clearing their brethren, whatever the cost.

      In the days following the shooting, even as city
      officials were assuring community and religious leaders
      of a fair and thorough investigation, the three men's
      criminal records, including some sealed juvenile cases,
      were leaked to the press in what their attorneys said
      was an effort to "dirty up the victims." Police raided
      apartments in the complex where one of the men lives
      and another used to hang out. As many as a dozen
      friends and acquaintances were taken into custody and
      questioned. Police officials claim any arrests in what
      some describe as a "parallel investigation" were
      coincidental. It was an attempt at spin that spun out
      of control.

      "There was about 72 hours where it was just insane. . .
      . It was cops gone wild," said attorney Charlie King,
      who represents, at last count, 11 people questioned by
      police in the aftermath.

      Allegations of such parallel investigations are not
      new. In fact, historically, the police response after
      cops shoot unarmed people appears to come from the same
      blueprint--look at Diallo, look at Dorismond, or go way
      back and look at the case of little Clifford Glover.

      The Sean Bell case introduced a twist: a mysterious,
      gun-wielding man who fled the scene. Call it the Fourth
      Man Theory.

      Ideally for the NYPD's reputation, the hunt for a
      fourth man would have yielded a gun at the scene and
      thus help exonerate the five officers who fired the
      shots that killed Bell, who was to be married later
      that day, and wounded his friends Trent Benefield and
      Joseph Guzman, who had been at his bachelor party at
      the Kalua Cabaret just before the shooting.

      It now appears that there was no fourth man, but that
      doesn't mean the search for him--or, more to the point,
      for an excuse--was entirely in vain.

      "The immediate advantage of it is, if at the outset of
      public conversation about the event you plant in
      people's minds that there was a fourth man or a gun and
      sometimes that sticks," said Christopher Dunn,
      associate legal director of the New York Civil
      Liberties Union. "In a way, they're framing public
      discussion about it so that it deflects blame away from
      the officers."

      Descriptions of the so-called fourth man began to
      emerge in media reports immediately after the shooting.
      The fourth man could've been in or near the car. Maybe
      he was armed with a gun. He could've been wearing a
      beige jacket. His nickname might be "M.O." or maybe

      Five days after the shooting, the raids and hours of
      interviews provided police with the identification of
      someone who was supposed to be this mystery man. At
      about 8:30 p.m. on November 30, detectives approached a
      27-year-old man named Jean Nelson outside a Jamaica
      housing complex as hardscrabble as its nickname-- "the

      Nerves were already raw. There had been a number of
      clashes between residents and members of the press.
      When a police helicopter hovered overhead, people
      screamed at it and flipped it the bird. An impromptu
      shrine to Bell, growing by the minute with additions of
      poetry, stuffed animals, and bottles of Hennessy,
      stoked emotions. Some people wore T-shirts emblazoned
      with Bell's image. A few muttered about violence
      against police.

      Nevertheless, detectives barreled into the midst of
      this scene and demanded that Nelson come with them.

      By then, Charlie King had met with Queens D.A.
      officials, and it was agreed that the men, including
      Nelson, who were with Bell the night he was killed
      would cooperate with their investigation as long as the
      police weren't involved. (King didn't want the police
      to be able to tailor their grand jury testimony to the
      men's statements.) King said he also received what he
      called a "blanket assurance" from the D.A. that his
      clients wouldn't be "hassled or intimidated" by police.

      When Nelson spotted the detectives coming for him, he
      quickly dialed King's number. The attorney said he told
      Nelson to put a detective on the line and told the cop
      about the agreement with the D.A. King said he added,
      "He's not to talk to the police. You are to leave my
      client alone." He gave the detective phone numbers for
      the D.A. and a police supervisor and told him to check
      it out himself.

      "Hold on," King said the detective told him. But 20
      seconds later, he was back on the phone and told King,
      "We're taking him in. We have our orders."

      "What's the charge?" King shot back.

      "We don't have to tell you that," the detective said
      and then hung up. When King dialed Nelson's number, no
      one picked up.

      Irate, King called Charlie Testagrossa, the Queens
      D.A.'s deputy executive assistant district attorney for
      major crimes, and lit into him.

      "How do you expect people to cooperate with you if you
      can't assure us that they're going to be free from
      police harassment?" King fumed.

      Technically, Nelson wasn't under arrest. He wasn't
      handcuffed. He later told the Voice he didn't want to
      go, but he got into the unmarked car anyway. They're
      the police, after all.

      At the precinct, Nelson said, detectives asked him what
      he saw the night of the shooting. "Just tell us right
      now," he recalled their saying, "and you'll be able to
      leave in 10 minutes, and you won't have to wait for
      your lawyer." They asked him if he was on Liverpool
      Street when the shooting happened. He didn't tell
      police this, but he was. And so were several friends
      who were at the bachelor party, though none was close
      enough to Bell's car to qualify as the so-called fourth

      When Nelson continued to defer all questions to his
      lawyer, a lieutenant taunted, "What do you have a
      lawyer for if you didn't do anything?" Nelson said he
      didn't take the bait.

      About 30 minutes after being brought in, the
      questioning abruptly stopped, and Nelson was released.
      King said he thinks it was because the D.A.'s office

      "I've been floored and shocked at the police
      department's conduct on the local level," said King, an
      Ivy League-educated attorney from Rockland County who
      has made unsuccessful election runs for lieutenant
      governor and state attorney general but is a neophyte
      when it comes to cases of possible NYPD misconduct. "It
      changed my view forever of the kind of power that
      police have and how they can use it at cross-purposes
      to investigate what's the truth."

      Having grown up right here in Jamaica, Nelson wasn't
      shocked. He said he recognized it for what it was: an
      attempt "to justify what can't be justified."

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