S.F. officer wins appeal in offensive video case

A San Francisco police officer who was suspended after he helped make offensive videos as part of a party prank will regain his lost pay after a state appeals court overturned a Superior Court decision denying his claim.

Officer Andrew Cohen, the videographer who produced a series of controversial videos at the Bayview police station, was out of work for five days in an “emergency” suspension after the police administration learned of the videos.

After the footage, which included sexually and racially charged content, was made public in December 2005, Police Chief Heather Fong immediately suspended 24 officers who had been implicated in the scandal. Police officers normally go though an extensive hearing process before a suspension. Cohen sued the department for eight days of lost pay and benefits, claiming that his suspension came with improper notification.

“It’s not a blockbuster decision. It simply means Officer Cohen’s suspension is rescinded. The City will restore pay and benefits for the period of one week,” said Matt Dorsey, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

In May 2006, a San Francisco Superior Court judge dismissed Cohen’s claim. Thursday’s decision overturned that dismissal. Cohen will receive eight days’ worth of pay and benefits, and is seeking attorney fees.

Some of the officers implicated in the scandal, including Cohen, have filed a separate, federal lawsuit against the department, alleging racism on Fong’s part. They claim Fong, who is Chinese-American, punished them more harshly than officers of Asian heritage who were also involved. That lawsuit is ongoing.

amartin@examiner.com

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