The City is expected to settle a $495,000 lawsuit with a woman who claimed to be wrongfully arrested by police who thought she was driving a stolen car. (MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO)

The City is expected to settle a $495,000 lawsuit with a woman who claimed to be wrongfully arrested by police who thought she was driving a stolen car. (MIKE KOOZMIN/S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO)

City set to approve wrongful arrest suit settlement

About six years after San Francisco police officers placed a woman at gunpoint over wrongfully suspecting her of driving a stolen Lexus in the Mission, The City is expected to settle the lawsuit she filed for $495,000, city documents show.

Denise Green, who was 45-years-old and working as a Muni driver at the time of the incident, was driving one late night in March 2009 along Mission Street in her 1992 red Lexus. She had just finished picking up her sister from the hospital and dropping her off at the 24th Street BART station.

Police pulled her over on information that her car was stolen, but a police’s automatic license plate reader misidentified her car as a stolen vehicle through the mistake of one digit and officers never checked the plates of the Lexus before pulling her over. The plate number actually read by the camera belonged to a 1999 gray GMC truck, according to court documents.

Officer Alberto Esparza was driving the patrol car at the time with the license plate reader and was unable to make out the actual plate number but had dispatch confirm the plate number identified by the camera was in fact stolen.

Once pulled over by Sgt. Ja Han Kim, Green was treated as a high-risk felony culprit. She “saw numerous police officers with guns pointed at her, and an officer with a shotgun or assault rifle just to her left,” the court document said. She was handcuffed and forced to her knees. Green as well as her vehicle was searched. Ultimately, the police realized their mistake and released her, but not after more than 20 minutes had passed.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, sought damages related to wrongful seizure at gunpoint, violation of constitutional rights and severe emotional distress.

Green’s attorney, Michael Haddad declined to comment on the pending settlement, which is being introduced Tuesday by the City Attorney to the Board of Supervisors for approval. Green remains employed with the transit agency and has since been promoted to a supervisor post. The board returns to legislative session this week after a monthlong summer legislative recess.

City AttorneyDenise GreenDennis Herreraexcessive forcelawsuitLexusMissionMunipolicePoliticsSan Franciscosettlement

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu, who took office in February, is in the process of restructuring the sprawling department. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
Report knocks city administrator for inefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

Most Read