Skateboarder Anthony Economus suffered injuries including a fractured ankle in a collision with a San Francisco police officer. (Courtesy Law Offices of John Burris)

Skateboarder Anthony Economus suffered injuries including a fractured ankle in a collision with a San Francisco police officer. (Courtesy Law Offices of John Burris)

SFPD chief declines to punish sergeant who collided with skateboarder

A San Francisco police sergeant appears to have avoided punishment for colliding with a skateboarder in an incident captured on video near Dolores Park, despite an oversight agency’s recommendation that he be suspended.

The Department of Police Accountability revealed in a report filed ahead of the Police Commission meeting Wednesday that Chief Bill Scott declined to pursue discipline against the officer who collided with Anthony Economus last July as the skateboarder raced down Dolores Street during an unpermitted event.

The DPA did not name the sergeant because of state law protecting the privacy of officers accused of misconduct, but he is identified as Sgt. Flint Paul in an excessive force lawsuit that the skateboarder filed against him in federal court.

Patrick Buelna, an attorney for the skateboarder, said the chief’s decision “sends a message to the entire department that using excessive force is okay.”

Buelna alleges that Paul moved into his client’s path and deliberately used his shoulder to knock Economus over after another skateboarder flipped the sergeant off. The impact launched Economus into the hood of a police car and onto the ground.

The collision bloodied Economus. He suffered a fractured ankle and “sustained a large gash on his knee that took over ten stitches to close,” according to his attorney.

“He was in a wheelchair then crutches for several months,” Buelna said. “Now he essentially doesn’t skateboard any longer due to this incident.”

The City Attorney’s Office, which is representing Paul, countered in court records that Economus struck the sergeant.

The San Francisco Police Department considers the chief’s decision a personnel matter and declined to comment, but the head of the San Francisco Police Officers Association defended Paul as a “very well-respected” sergeant.

“Sgt. Paul is an outstanding police officer, I’ve known him his entire career,” SFPOA President Tony Montoya said. “What happened up on Dolores Street that night was unfortunate.”

The DPA recommended that the sergeant be suspended for three days for an alleged failure to comply with crowd control policies and inappropriate behavior.

“DPA received numerous complaints regarding a sergeant who used a police vehicle and his own body to block the path of skateboarders riding down a large hill,” the report said. “The complainants expressed grave concern about the sergeant’s conduct because it appeared intentional, unnecessary, and specifically aimed at harming the skateboarders.”

The report also included details on 17 cases in which the DPA substained 48 allegations against 35 officers in the last four months.

DPA Executive Director Paul Henderson declined to comment on the skateboarding case directly but said his department is attempting to be more transparent.

“I’m trying to provide as much as I can in a way that I can that’s available to the broadest audience possible,” Henderson said.

The collision was not the first incident to land Paul in court.

In 2015, a man sued Paul over allegations of excessive force for flinging him against a police car and to the ground during Pride weekend.

The City Attorney’s Office reached an undisclosed settlement agreement with the plaintiff, Tony Nguyen, last year.

It is not known whether Paul faced discipline for the first incident.

Buelna said Paul remains a sergeant at Mission Police Station.

The civil trial is scheduled to begin next April.

Skateboarder Anthony Economus suffered injuries including a fractured ankle in a collision with a San Francisco police officer. (Courtesy Law Offices of John Burris)

mbarba@sfexaminer.com Crime

Just Posted

Epic Cleantec uses soil mixed with treated wastewater solids to plants at the company’s demonstration garden in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of Epic Cleantec)
This startup watches what SF flushes – and grows food with it

Epic Cleantec saves millions of gallons of water a year, and helps companies adhere to drought regulations

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler congratulates San Francisco Giants first baseman Darin Ruf (33) in the dug out after hitting a home-run in the 5th inning against the Washington Nationals at Oracle Park on July 9, 2021. (Christopher Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

The Kimpton Buchanan Hotel in Japantown could become permanent supportive housing if The City can overcome neighborhood pushback. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco leaders must reject NIMBY discrimination against homeless housing

By San Francisco Examiner Editorial Board “We support supportive housing. But just… Continue reading

The 49ers, opening with a win against the Lions in week one, play the Eagles. (Courtesy 49ers)
NFL Week 2 predictions: Our picks against the spread

By Emmanuel Morgan New York Times Last-second field goals. Teams flooding the… Continue reading

“Ticket to Ride,” on view at RVCA’s Haight-Ashbury store, is made up of artistic renderings of Muni tickets. (Courtesy Optimist Williams)
Celebrating pre-tech SF through Muni transfer tickets

‘Ticket to Ride’ exhibit presents public transit as art and equalizer

Most Read