By David M. Greenwald
In San Francisco, two weeks ago, San Francisco Police Chief Scott pulled out of an MOU with the San Francisco DA’s Office on investigating police use of force.
However, the move triggered concerns by many about how it would impact investigations into complaints of police brutality.
On Monday morning, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu issued a joint statement regarding commitments and efforts — already set to begin this week — to renegotiate the MOU between the District Attorney’s Office and the Police Department governing the investigation of officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and uses of force resulting in serious bodily injury.
“We are all working together to support the parties to swiftly and collaboratively reach an agreement on the terms of an amended MOU that address the significant issues of compliance, accountability, and mutual expectations,” the statement read. “Fundamentally, the MOU is an important tool for advancing transparency and accountability, which are cornerstones in ensuring effective policing and fortification of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“The MOU has also been critical for achieving compliance with recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice, which San Francisco has been working to meet over the last several years.”
The news that the DA’s office and Police Department are willing to negotiate the MOU has been received positively.
“Our three offices will work closely with both parties to advance these efforts with all due haste. We are committed to ensuring that any past violations of the MOU are addressed as this effort moves forward, and to working to identify and resolve concerns raised regarding any potentially systemic deficiencies that have contributed to distrust,” the statement continued.
It concluded, “Both the District Attorney and the Chief of Police have expressed their commitment to independent and fair investigations when these incidents involving police officers do occur. As these efforts to renegotiate and strengthen the MOU get underway, we collectively reaffirm that all parties are committed to ensuring that such a process is able to continue in the City and County of San Francisco.”
Spokesperson for Boudin’s office, Rachel Marshall, told the Vanguard in a statement,
“We agree that the MOU has room for improvement and needs a method to enforce violations. We are hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that preserves our ability to conduct independent investigations of police use of force.”
She added, “Either way, the DA is committed to taking the lead on investigating and prosecuting unlawful use of force in San Francisco.”
The ground appears to have shifted in the last two weeks since Chief Scott abruptly pulled out of the MOU.
“Very serious concerns have been brought to my attention regarding recent testimony in the Superior Court of the County of San Francisco from a member of the DA’s Office who was assigned as an investigator to your Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) at the time of the incident in question,” Chief Scott said. “I have reviewed the court transcripts where the DA investigator provided testimony to the court, under oath, showing that the spirit and the letter of MOU processes and procedures we agreed upon have not been followed by the DA’s Office.”
A district attorney’s office investigator, Magen Hayashi, according to a release on Wednesday from the police chief, “testified in that hearing that under pressure from assistant district attorneys she misled police investigators about the status of an underlying criminal investigation into a domestic violence incident, and withheld evidence from a sworn affidavit.”
According to Hayashi’s sworn testimony from the hearing, the “understanding that I had in our unit was that our investigative steps, meaning the investigators, was not a two-way street with the police department and that we — they were to give us information, but we would not provide that back to them.”
However, Dacari Spier’s attorney, Curtis Briggs, told the Vanguard on Wednesday that it was actually the police who had withheld critical information from Spiers. He also confirmed that these accusations coming from Hayashi pre-date current DA Chesa Boudin’s tenure.
Moreover, it appeared that most of the complaints predated the current DA, Chesa Boudin, having taken office.