Police chief defends Occupy SF response

Mike Koozmin/The SF ExaminerRaid’s toll: Police Chief Greg Suhr said officers suffered three felony assaults during their raid on the Occupy SF encampment Wednesday. A suspect accused of hurling a chair at an officer’s face will be arraigned today.

San Francisco cops have shown “tremendous restraint” in their recent scuffles with Occupy SF protesters, police Chief Greg Suhr declared Wednesday night.

During a Police Commission meeting, Suhr defended the dozens of arrests made early Wednesday during and after the 1 a.m. raid on the Justin Herman Plaza encampment.

More than 100 officers carried out the raid on the approximately 150 protesters, Officer Albie Esparza said. Later in the day, protesters attempted to reclaim the plaza and had a three-hour standoff with cops.

“We don’t have any reports, at least at this time, of any of the Occupy people being injured,” the police chief told commissioners at the Wednesday night meeting.

Some protesters complained of injuries, but it wasn’t clear whether any were serious. Most expressed anger that cops gave them only five minutes to pack up their belongings and leave the plaza. Suhr took issue with that sentiment.

“They were told they had five minutes, but per the computer-assisted dispatch log, it was actually close to 18 minutes that folks had to gather their belongings,” Suhr said, adding that campers were actually given two months of warning to vacate.

Seventy-nine of the protesters left the plaza peacefully during the raid, with four resisting arrest but not causing assault or injury, Suhr said. Others were more combative, he said.

“There were three felony assaults on the officers,” Suhr said. “One demonstrator threw a bottle, another demonstrator threw a garbage can that injured an officer, and another demonstrator threw a metal chair that struck an officer in the face of his helmet, breaking his face shield.”

The suspect accused of hurling the metal chair, identified as Joshua Silva, 21, of Oakland, will be arraigned today on one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said.

Also with a court date today is transient Michael Chapin, 28, the alleged garbage can thrower. He faces charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor resisting a police officer, Talai said.

Police Commission President Thomas Mazzucco said the use of force is “inherent in making an arrest.”

“The good news is, there were no debacles like Oakland or Los Angeles, or New York,” Mazzucco said. “There’s no major blowups.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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