Fong, Newsom still in hot seat for video

A federal judge has allowed part of a complaint to move forward against Mayor Gavin Newsom and police Chief Heather Fong filed in the wake of a police training video that was publicly renounced as discriminatory.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston issued a ruling last week that allows police Officer Andrew Cohen to proceed with an amended claim against Fong and Newsom, charging that they were involved in a conspiracy to harm him.

Newsom made a selection of Cohen’s videos public Dec. 7, 2005, during a news conference in which he referred to the skits as racist, sexist and homophobic.

The vignettes had been posted on Cohen’s Web site, but he removed it after a request from the Police Department, according to the complaint. When Cohen attempted to remove the address where his family lives, however, he learned that domain hosting company Go Daddy had restricted his access because of an SFPD-issued letter of preservation.

The claim “alleges that he feared for his safety because his home address was available to the public at a time when defendants were publicly criticizing his video.”

Illston also ruled that while Fong and Newsom can personally be responsible for punitive damages, The City cannot.

Matt Dorsey with the City Attorney’s Office said that while most of the accusations had been dismissed, “there still remains to be a piece of this to be litigated. We don’t believe there’s any merit to the allegations.”

Representatives for Fong and Newsom referred calls about Cohen to the City Attorney’s Office.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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