A San Francisco police officer has been charged with assault and battery for allegedly beating a man with a baton near Fisherman’s Wharf last October, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Monday.
Dacari Spiers, 32, was on a date with his then-girlfriend near Pier 39 when Officer Terrance Stangel allegedly broke his wrist and leg while responding to a report of a man assaulting a woman, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
What happened during the encounter is in dispute, but Stangel is now facing charges of battery with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and assault under the color of authority.
A judge signed a warrant for his arrest Monday.
“This case is an example of an officer unnecessarily escalating a situation and then violently beating a Black man whom he had no legal basis to even arrest,” Boudin said in a statement. “Officers who not only fail to promote safety but actively harm others must — and in my administration will — be held accountable.”
Stangel is the third San Francisco Police Department officer to face criminal charges in less than a month. Boudin previously charged former Officer Christopher Samayoa with manslaughter for fatally shooting a man in 2017, and secured an indictment against Officer Christopher Flores over a non-fatal 2019 police shooting.
Tony Montoya, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said he expects Stangel will be “accorded his due process rights as he navigates through the legal process and all the facts surrounding this incident are made public.”
“The District Attorney is doing all he can to try this case in the public and not the courtroom and he’s withholding all of the facts while doing so,” Montoya said. “Boudin is more interested in headline chasing than administering justice in a fair and impartial manner.”
The encounter happened when Stangel and and Officer Cuauhtemoc Martinez were responding to a 911 call reporting a man choking a woman near the parking garage at Powell and Beach streets on the night of Oct. 6, 2019.
Speaking on behalf of the officers, an attorney previously told the San Francisco Examiner that Stangel and Martinez interrupted a “dangerous” domestic violence situation in which Spiers allegedly put his hands around his girlfriend’s neck.
But the District Attorney’s Office said the officers “did not observe any physical violence or unlawful conduct by either of them.”
Citing body-worn camera footage from the case, prosecutors said Martinez ordered Spiers to turn around and tried to grab Spiers while “ignoring questions by him and his girlfriend about what he had done.”
Stangel then allegedly struck Spiers from behind with the baton before delivering more blows to his legs after Martinez brought him to the ground.
In February, Spiers filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco over the encounter alleging excessive force and other claims. One of his attorneys, Jamir Davis, said Boudin “did the right thing” by charging Stangel.
“Our client wasn’t doing anything that was illegal, but he was immediately treated like a criminal,” Davis told the Examiner on Monday.
Davis said there was no evidence of Spiers injuring his girlfriend. She had no scratches, bruises or marks on her body when photographed after the incident.
“There wasn’t any domestic violence whatsoever,” Davis said.
He said the person who called 911 witnessed the incident from across a dark street.
“As an African American male, many times people call the police on you just because they have a bad opinion or they like to profile Black men,” Spiers said. “We believe that’s what the call was based on.”
In court records, the City Attorney’s Office said Spiers refused to comply with police when Martinez told him to step away with his girlfriend.
Instead, Spiers allegedly “placed his hands on Officer Martinez and pushed him back several times.”
“As a result, the officers had no other choice but to use force in order to subdue Plaintiff,” a deputy city attorney wrote, accusing Spiers of resisting arrest.
Spiers was taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment and later served with an emergency protective order to keep away from his girlfriend. His attorneys allege police continued to harass him at the hospital.
Spiers drove for the food-delivery service DoorDash before the incident. But the encounter left him at first in a wheelchair and then on crutches. He has not been able to work since, Davis said.
“He’s just now getting to the stage where he can be mobile,” Davis said. Spiers and his then-girlfriend are no longer together.