The ACLU filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday against the San Francisco Police Department, three officers and the City, alleging that a young black man was arrested and beaten by plainclothes police without reason in South of Market.
On April 10, three officers allegedly pulled Travis Ian Hall from the backseat of a parked car on McCoppin and Valencia streets, across from where his mother lives, when he tried to call his mother on a cellphone. The 23-year-old graphic designer was being dropped off after music practice by two friends.
Hall was allegedly thrown to the ground by Sgt. Anthony Montoya and Officer Giselle Talkoff. According to the suit, the officers then picked Hall up, and slammed him onto the concrete several times. Hall was allegedly punched, had his arm twisted and was threatened by the officers, including Officer Joshua Cabillo.
“I feel like these officers from Mission Station acted like a fraternity of bullies,” Leigh Stackpole, Hall’s mother, told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. “I basically called the cops to tell the cops they assaulted my son.”
The complaint claims that police had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop, detain and arrest Hall, and also that the officers used excessive force on him.
It’s unclear why the officers pulled up behind the car and began to question Hall and his friends. A spokesperson for the Police Department declined to comment on the allegations or provide the police report. The City Attorney’s Office was not immediately available for comment.
Hall was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication, possession of marijuana and resisting arrest, but the District Attorney’s Office declined to file formal charges against him citing a lack of sufficient evidence.
Attorney Nanya Gupta, who is handling the case for the ACLU, said at the press conference the incident’s a clear indicator of racial profiling and bias within the Police Department, whose officers allegedly stopped Hall and his two friends because Hall and one of his friends are black.
“We’d like to see San Francisco police officers receive better training, specifically on implicit and racial bias,” Gupta said, while also calling for body cameras and demographic data collection of who police use force on.
Last week, the Police Department’s union denied racial profiling was used by officers in The City.
The Police Commission, citizens who oversee the department, have made significant efforts recently to obtain body cameras for officers.
At a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, the board approved an ordinance to start tracking and reporting demographic data on law enforcement detentions and traffic stops.
Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeink