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Richmond sergeant pleads not guilty to firing gun inside SF hotel

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Phillip Sanchez booking photo. (Courtesy SFPD)

A city of Richmond police sergeant pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he fired a gun inside a hotel in downtown San Francisco and then held police at bay for about 90 minutes.

Philip Sanchez entered his plea at about 2:30 p.m. before Judge Christopher Hite at San Francisco’s Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St.

Sanchez, 45, was charged with discharging a gun in an inhabited dwelling, negligent discharge of a gun, felony vandalism and brandishing a gun.

Sanchez, who is out of custody on $290,000 bail, didn’t say anything as he walked into the courtroom wearing gray pants, tennis shoes, a light blue shirt, tie and navy blazer.

Before 5 a.m. Sunday, Sanchez allegedly fired a gun at least 10 times inside a part of the Four Seasons Hotel & Residences, located at 757 Market St., that was being renovated, San Francisco District Attorney spokesperson Maxwell Szabo said.

Police responded to reports of gunfire and when officers arrived Sanchez refused to come out of the hotel, which led to the standoff. But police were able to speak with him by phone and convinced him to surrender at about 6:30 a.m. No one was injured during the ordeal.

Hite said that as part of Sanchez’s bail, Sanchez must stay at least 150 yards from the Four Seasons hotel, turn in any weapons he has to San Francisco police and avoid possessing any weapons.

Sanchez’s attorney Nicole Pifari said reports that Sanchez was mentally unstable around the time he fired the gun inside the hotel are “out of character for him.”

“We have yet to see or read anything that would confirm that for us,” Pifari said.

Pifari said Sanchez is “100 percent lucid now” and that she is not aware that Sanchez was taking any drugs around the time of the shooting.

Pifari said the defense has just received the police report.

Sanchez was taken to a hospital after he surrendered.

According to Pifari, he was suffering from an injury to the back of his head consistent with blunt force trauma. Sanchez was also suffering from injuries to his arm and face and may have been attacked.

Additionally, Pifari said, as Sanchez was being taken to the hospital he had symptoms of a heart attack.

“This is a perplexing case,” Pifari said. “We’re still trying to figure out what happened.”

The defense has yet to receive any medical records yet, according to Pifari.

Pifari said Sanchez initially was not going to appear in court because he was suffering from very high blood pressure and had seen a cardiologist earlier in the day.

Sanchez’s next court date is set for Jan. 23 for a pretrial conference but Hite told Sanchez he does not have to appear.

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