SF Police Officer Who Beat Black Man Set for Trial in March after Being Charged by District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s Office 

San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin

By Lovepreet Dhinsa

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco Police Officer Terrance Stangel, who beat up an African American male with a baton near Fisherman’s Wharf in October 2019, will finally stand trial later this month.

Officer Stangel and Officer Cuauhetemoc Martinez were responding to a 911 call, in which there had been a domestic abuse report of a man choking a woman near Powell and Bush Streets on October 6, 2019.

The officers found Dacari Spiers and his girlfriend near those streets and, according to the officers, Spiers matched the description of the suspect that they had been looking for.

Spiers, 32. was with his girlfriend and cousin attending Fleet Week at Pier 39, which is an annual military celebration in the city. Spiers is a local music artist and former gig worker. Spiers was also formerly driving for DoorDash, which he is unable to continue because of his physical condition.

Spiers was asked to face the wall to which he allegedly refused to comply and pushed Officer Martinez, after which Officer Stangel started beating Spiers with his baton. Stangel claims he used force when Spiers did not comply with the order and put away his baton after Spiers was under control.

Spiers sustained significant injuries to his wrist and leg during this encounter, and was taken to St. Francis Hospital for treatment, which included having to use a wheelchair and then crutches, until he became used to walking with a cane. He has not been able to work since the encounter.

While Spiers was in treatment, he was served with an emergency protective order to keep away from his girlfriend.

Spiers’s attorneys also alleged that police officers continued to harass and threaten him throughout his treatment in the hospital.

According to the lawsuit, five officers went into the hospital room and “attempted to threaten [Spiers] to remain silent” and not seek “legal representation for the beating.”

After the treatment process, Spiers filed a lawsuit in February against the City and County of San Francisco, alleging excessive force, which is currently pending.

The lawsuit alleges that Spiers and his girlfriend were engaged in an embrace, leaning against a car, when he was grabbed by two officers from behind and was struck multiple times with a baton.

At a press conference in which Spiers was using a cane to walk, he explained that “everything happened kind of fast.”

Spiers explained that “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, [in which]…we believe that’s what the call was based on.”

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office charged Officer Stangel with four felony charges, including 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.

Spiers’s attorney, Jamir Davis, confirmed that Boudin and his office “did the right thing” by charging Officer Stangel.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Linda Colfax found probable cause to believe that the officer had unlawfully struck the victim with a baton and continued to do so after the victim complied with orders.

According to defense attorney Nicole Pifari, “The People are trying to charge this man with four felonies for doing exactly what he’d trained to do, exactly what we have asked him to do,” adding that Stangel “downgraded his force when it was appropriate to do so…he showed kindness and compassion.”

Pifari also argued that the prosecution was too “political,” and accused the district attorney’s office of omitting statements from the hearing and affidavit that would help exonerate the officer.

One of Spiers’s attorneys stated that their “client wasn’t doing anything that was illegal, but he was immediately treated like a criminal,” and argued that there was no evidence of Spiers injuring his girlfriend, who had no scratches, bruises, or marks on her body when photographed for the incident.

In response to the defense, Pifari said the police were solely responding to a report of violence in progress when Spiers “violently attacked the officers,” all of which was not seen in the body camera footage.

Pifari insisted that “unless it is Mr. Spiers’s practice to ‘comfort’ his girlfriend by putting his hands around her neck, I am confident these officers will be exonerated” and “the officers may even be congratulated for interrupting a dangerous domestic violence incident.”

In response to the police misconduct and investigations, District Attorney Boudin created an independent investigations unit within his office, called the Independent Investigations Bureau.

Assistant District Attorney Hans Moore of the IIB argued that extensive force was unreasonable, especially considering the fact that Spiers was not committing a crime.

Hans Moore further stated that “it’s not a crime to stand close to each other” and “it is clear from the body-worn camera that there is no crime in progress.”

In Police Chief Bill Scott’s ordered release of body-worn camera footage, which can be found here (https://vimeo.com/491401547), Officer Stangel is repeatedly shown beating Spiers with his baton, whilst Spiers is already on the ground with his hands behind his back.

After beating Spiers on the ground, according to the footage, Officers Stangel and Martinez then mockingly ask Spiers if he was okay.

Officer Stangel appears to be the third officer to be prosecuted by the DA’s IIB office, who has repeatedly stated his commitment to holding law enforcement and officers accountable for any misconduct.

Boudin stated that “we are pleased that, after the testimony of numerous witnesses over three days, the court confirmed that there is enough evidence to support presenting all four felony charges we filed to a jury.”

Last December, when Boudin charged Officer Stangel, he had stated that this case was 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.”

A now-disabled Spiers noted that “this shouldn’t happen to nobody regardless of what they [are] and what they work for” and “I haven’t been able to work, I haven’t been able to play with my kids, nothing.”

Officer Stangel remains out of custody for the moment, but is due back to answer to these charges in court on March 16.

Lovepreet Dhinsa is a junior undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She has a passion for criminal defense law, and strives to go to law school to fight for indigent clients. As such, she is also involved in her university’s mock trial program and student government.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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