Sheriff’s deputy sentenced to probation for SFGH patient beating

The San Francisco sheriff’s deputy who assaulted a homeless man while on duty at San Francisco General Hospital was sentenced on Wednesday to three years probation and 100 hours of community service, according to court records.

Michael Robert Lewelling, 34, was convicted in August of choking and punching a disabled man who fell asleep on a bench in the hospital waiting room on Nov. 3, 2014, court records show. The incident was captured on video in which Lewelling can be seen waking and then attacking the homeless man, as the victim was standing up to walk away.

A jury found Lewelling guilty of felony assault under the color of law and misdemeanor simple assault on Aug. 4, according to court records. He was found not guilty of filing a false document and police report.

Lewelling was sentenced Wednesday morning before San Francisco Superior Court judge Ellen Chaitin. He remains on unpaid personal leave from the sheriff’s department, according to Kenya Briggs, sheriff’s spokesperson.

The 2014 altercation began when Fernando Guanill, 59, who had been homeless for about three and a half years, went to the hospital for an appointment to schedule a knee replacement surgery, court records show. Guanill was disabled in a car accident where his leg was crushed.

Guanill fell asleep on the hospital bench after taking a “double dose” of his pain medication, court records show. He woke up when Lewelling touched his arm and tried to kick him out of the waiting room.

When Guanill picked up his cane and started to walk away he was assaulted and taken to County Jail for three days, according to court records.

“He could not breathe and was being choked and punched,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “He was in total fear for his life.”

Hospital staff testified during the trial that Guanill was “talking loudly and waving his cane in the air for about 20 minutes” and was also “ranting and raving,” but video evidence proved otherwise, prosecutors said.

Lewelling’s police report on the incident also said that Guanill attempted to assault Lewelling with a cane. But prosecutors said the video showed no such assault, according to court records.

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