California Attorney General to mediate dispute between Police Chief and District Attorney

Mayor London Breed and City Attorney David Chiu will also participate

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, along with San Francisco city officials, on Monday said they’re hoping the San Francisco Police Department and District Attorney Chesa Boudin can resolve a fractured investigative agreement during discussions this week.

Earlier this month, Police Chief Bill Scott moved to end a memorandum of understanding between the agencies that allowed the district attorney’s Independent Investigations Bureau to respond to crime scenes and investigate officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and use of force cases.

Scott moved to terminate the agreement following recent testimony by a district attorney’s office investigator in the ongoing criminal case against an officer accused of brutally beating a man with a baton in 2019. During the testimony, the investigator said under oath that she felt pressured by attorneys within the district attorney’s office to mislead police and withhold evidence from a sworn affidavit out of fear of losing her job.

Efforts to renegotiate the contract between the two agencies are set to begin this week, with Bonta, Mayor London Breed, and City Attorney David Chiu set to help facilitate the process.

“Fundamentally, the MOU is an important tool for advancing transparency and accountability, which are cornerstones in ensuring effective policing and fortification of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Bonta, Breed, and Chiu said in a joint statement on Monday.

“We appreciate our collective conversations with the District Attorney’s Office and the Police Department, and their willingness to come to the table to renegotiate the MOU. Our three offices will work closely with both parties to advance these efforts with all due haste. We are committed to ensuring that any past violations of the MOU are addressed as this effort moves forward, and to working to identify and resolve concerns raised regarding any potentially systemic deficiencies that have contributed to distrust,” the trio said.

Scott has defended his position, alleging an ongoing pattern of noncompliance with the agreement’s terms by the district attorney’s office has damaged confidence among the police department.

“I’m grateful to Attorney General Bonta, Mayor Breed and City Attorney Chiu for recognizing and responding to the significant issues of compliance that eroded my confidence in the integrity of my agreement with District Attorney Boudin’s office,” said Chief Scott on Monday.

“I stand strongly for the principles of accountability and transparency, which are foundational to all 21st century police reforms — including those involving uses of force and officer-involved shootings. But accountability and transparency must be mutually honored by both parties in agreements such as these,” he said.

Boudin has denied any wrongdoing on behalf of his office during investigations into police use of force incidents, but he said last week he agreed the MOU needs clarification and welcomes discussions.

In the ongoing criminal court case against the officer, Officer Terrance Stangel is facing battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault likely to cause great bodily injury and assault under color of authority for an October 2019 encounter with Dacari Spiers, an unarmed Black man. The encounter left Spiers with a broken leg and wrist, as well as lacerations to his leg.

Stangel is the first on-duty officer in the city’s history to be tried in court for such crimes.

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