A San Francisco police officer who worked on a two-year Tenderloin drug sting that busted only black people has been accused of using racial slurs and sexually harassing and threatening suspects, recent federal court filings show.
Several officers were accused in last week’s filings of calling black women “black bitches,” referring to black men as “boy” and using the N-word while patrolling the Tenderloin.
But one officer — Sgt. Shaughn Ryan — was singled out as “a particular problem” by defense attorneys for his alleged abusive behavior toward some of the 37 defendants indicted on drug-related charges during Operation Safe Schools, a joint operation of the Drug Enforcement Administration and San Francisco Police Department in 2014.
During the sting, police videotaped from rooftops as undercover officers bought goods off of targeted, low-level drug dealers in the Tenderloin, according to court filings. In other cases, police recorded day-to-day drug transactions. The alleged drug dealers were later arrested on federal arrest warrants and charged.
In recent months, attorneys from the Federal Public Defender’s Office collected sworn accounts from 14 of the defendants, who said the police paid more attention to black drug dealers than dealers of other races. The accounts were filed in a U.S. District Court motion last Wednesday that alleges the government singled out blacks for prosecution and, among other things, urges the police department to reveal further case files related to the sting.
Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a police spokesperson, said the allegations have been sent to the Internal Affairs Division for investigation.
“Chief [Greg] Suhr takes seriously any allegations of misconduct by members of the San Francisco Police Department,” Andraychak said. “As this involves an ongoing federal court case, and is a personnel matter, we cannot comment further.”
The allegations raise questions about racism in a police department with officers who were captured on video last week shooting to death a black man who was carrying a knife in the Bayview while he appeared to be walking away. In March, racist and homophobic text messages sent between The City’s finest were revealed, resulting in numerous officers losing their jobs.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi called for the officers implicated to be taken off the street while the allegations are investigated.
“We will also be looking through our cases involving the officers to ensure the safety of our clients,” Adachi said.
‘A particular problem’
Ryan is accused of verbally harassing women during searches and referring to confidential informants as “bitches that work for me,” defendant Saquita Nash said in court documents.
Voicemails left on Ryan’s personal phone and for Tenderloin Station brass were not returned by press time.
“Make it easier, how about I just handcuff them and put them in the police car and drive them to Candlestick and put a bullet in their heads,” Ryan allegedly told his fellow officer while detaining two women in 2013.
In a separate incident, Ryan is accused of threatening to plant drugs on a woman if she did not leave the area, according to court documents.
In 2008, Ryan allegedly told defendant Acacia McNeal while he was taking her to County Jail that he “just got married and you better be glad … or I’ll take some black p—y,” according to filings. The following year, he allegedly talked to another woman about the size of his penis and said, “Do you see the girl back there? If you suck d–k like her then you’ll get out of trouble too.”
The allegations against Ryan continue: “I’m going to kill you mother f—-r and shoot you in your head,” he allegedly said after pointing his gun at Wendell Johnson, a defendant, in 2012.
“You should be doing something else with that body, you could [be] making that money doing something else other than selling drugs,” he allegedly told defendant Angela Jones in 2013, according to court filings.
In her sworn statement, defendant Nijah Reed said, “Ryan requested to smell my hands because he believed that I had placed drugs in my genital area and that my hands smelled like my vagina. His comments were disgusting and it made me feel very uncomfortable.”
Ryan was also listed as working as an undercover officer with Arshad Razzak, a former police officer convicted of illegally searching the Henry Hotel in 2010, on police department press releases and bulletins from 2006 and 2007.
Ryan is a veteran of the department who was awarded the Silver Medal of Valor in 2003 and Bronze Medal of Valor in 2012.
Another police officer, Darren Nocetti, who was involved in 29 of the Operation Safe School cases, allegedly placed a man who he suspected of having drugs in his mouth in a chokehold “until blood vessels in his eyes appeared to pop,” said defendant Aaron Mathews, according to court filings.
Some allegations are made against unidentified officers, like an unknown officer who is said to have stomped on defendant Anita Dixon’s foot to wake her up inside Tenderloin Station, according to court documents. Other allegations are made against officers who are referred to by last name only.
Defendant Darell Powell also claimed five or six unknown officers swarmed and beat him on Eddy and Post streets after one officer claimed Powell mugged him, according to court filings.
One undercover officer, identified as R. Crosby, allegedly told defendant Lakeysha White in 2013, “I want to handcuff you to a bed and f–k you,” court records show. His alleged actions made White fearful of him, she said.
Adachi said the allegations were “particularly painful to read” even in the midst of shocking police misconduct.
“You do not give up your right to safety and dignity because police suspect you of breaking the law,” Adachi said. “Sexual assault, harassment and racial profiling are not something any citizen should have to endure.”
Operation Safe Schools
Below is a video of San Francisco Police Department officers performing surveillance from a rooftop during Operation Safe Schools.
This story has been updated to include comment from the police department.
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