Public Defender's Office releases video of cop hitting, pepper-spraying homeless man

The Public Defender's Office has released a video that it says shows a San Francisco police officer beating a homeless man with a baton and pepper-spraying him after he objected to being forced off a Muni bus, the office said in a statement Thursday.

The incident occurred about 11 p.m. Feb. 11 at Cabrillo and La Playa streets at the end of the 5-Fulton route.

Surveillance cameras on the bus captured the incident.

In the video, Officer Raymond Chu finds a man sleeping in the back of the bus. Chu ultimately wakes up the man and begins to escort him off the bus.

The man, identified by the Public Defender's Office as 36-year-old Bernard Warren, appears disheveled and has trouble standing and walking.

On his way off the bus, he reportedly says to the officer, “Don't touch me. I could beat your ass,” Public Defender's Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said. Chu then becomes agitated and shoves Warren off the bus.

It seems clear in the video that Warren is resisting Chu.

Further surveillance footage shows Chu and Warren outside the bus, with Chu yelling to Warren, “We done here? We done here? Yeah, keep walking,” Aparton said. Then the video clearly shows Chu striking Warren with the baton in the back of his legs.

The Public Defender's Office claims that further into the video Chu pepper-sprays Warren, although it is difficult to clearly see that.

However, Chu confirms in his police report that he did strike Warren with the baton and pepper-sprayed him as well, Aparton said. Warren was then arrested and booked on charges of threatening an executive officer.

Warren spent the next two weeks in jail but was then released over strenuous objections from prosecutors, said Deputy Public Defender Andrea Lindsay, who is representing Warren. He is scheduled to return to court next week and faces up to one year in jail if convicted of the charges.

The District Attorney's Office said it was reviewing the case to make sure it was handled appropriately, spokesman Max Szabo said. The court has ordered Warren to prove that he is seeking mental health treatment.

This is the second time this year that video surfaced showing an officer reportedly using excessive force in situations the Public Defender's Office called minor conflicts.

In mid-January, video captured a San Francisco police officer trying to tip over a man's wheelchair in the Sunnydale housing projects. That incident is under investigation by the Police Department's Internal Affairs unit and the Office of Citizen Complaints.

Police Chief Greg Suhr on Thursday defended Chu’s actions, saying he was simply doing his job.

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