SF police union calls use-of-force policy into question as video shows driver back into officer

The San Francisco police union said late Friday that surveillance footage of undercover police foiling an auto burglary near Alamo Square shows why police should be able to shoot at moving vehicles.

The San Francisco Police Department released the video showing the driver of a black sedan backing into another auto-burglary suspect and a plainclothes officer while attempting to flee the scene at Hayes and Pierce streets on Thursday. The driver ran over his accomplice but narrowly missed the officer.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association said the video shows that police should be allowed to shoot at moving vehicles. SFPOA President Martin Halloran called the incident a “clear and deliberate assault” in an email to members.

“The SFPD policy imposed by the Police Commission puts our officers lives in danger and I have serious doubts that some on the Commission care enough to change this flawed policy,” Halloran said. “What will it take? A dead cop?”

In December 2016, the Police Commission approved a new use-of-force policy barring police officers from shooting at moving vehicles as recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice. The change came after numerous high-profile police shootings by the SFPD.

The decision spawned a lawsuit from the police union that is still being argued in court today.

Police arrested three suspects in connection with the auto burglary.

Police identified the suspects as 25-year-old San Francisco resident Devonta Lofton, 23-year-old San Francisco resident Adrian Landers and 19-year-old San Francisco resident Jamon Butler.

Lofton was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, second-degree burglary, reckless evading, hit-and-run causing injury, conspiracy and misdemeanor driving with a suspended license.

Landers was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, second-degree burglary, reckless evading, hit-and-run causing injury, conspiracy, a parole violation and
misdemeanor possession of burglary tools.

Butler was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault upon a peace officer with firearm, second-degree burglary, reckless evading, hit-and-run causing injury and conspiracy.

The auto burglary was just one of many likely to happen in San Francisco this year. Last year, The City recorded more than 30,000 car break-ins — many targeting tourists — as San Francisco police struggle to curb the epidemic.

The “assault by this gang of felons further demonstrates that these are not just property crimes,” Halloran said. “These suspects will resort to violence to complete their crimes and flee from capture.”

Last October, a Tenderloin Station officer named Elia Lewin-Tankel was run over by a car break-in suspect. Halloran said Lewin-Tankel is still in a rehabilitation facility for a serious head injury.

Michael Barba
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Michael Barba

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