Curtis Briggs Noted Police Were So Out of Control the Night of the Beating, the Hospital Had to Kick Them Out and Post Their Own Security
By David M. Greenwald
San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Board of Supervisors this week, following allegations by a DA investigator, paused a $700,000 settlement to Dacari Spiers, who suffered broken bones and was hospitalized after being beaten with a baton by Officer Terrance Stangel.
This was followed on Wednesday with San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott terminating the MOU with the DA’s office after last week’s accusation by a DA investigator that prosecutors withheld evidence.
“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.
On Tuesday, Supervisor Catherine Stefani raised questions which prompted her colleagues to postpone the settlement.
“I do not feel comfortable approving this settlement given how many significant issues remain unresolved and given the light that was shown on this case when the DA investigator testified in open court,” Stefani said.
Stangel’s attorney, Nicole Pifari, filed a motion last week to dismiss the charges based on “prosecutorial misconduct” and “deceptive and reprehensible methods” used by the district attorney’s office.
“The DA’s deceit and concealment of real evidence is disturbing, it is corrupt, and it is a violation of public trust,” Pifari wrote. “Most importantly, however, it is illegal.”
But Judge Teresa Caffese called this evidence “irrelevant to the case.” It might have bearing on whether or not Spiers should have been charged with DV, but not whether or not Stangel was justified in using force on him and whether that force was excessive.
The judge declared that “whether or not the D.A.’s office decided to charge Mr. Spiers with DV is somewhat irrelevant.” She added “the ultimate question is whether or not there was excessive force used when Mr. Spiers allegedly was not acceding to the commands of the officers.”
The judge added, “I haven’t heard of any exculpatory information that’s been excluded.”
Supervisor Stefani called Hayashi’s accusations “extremely serious.
“I am very concerned about how nonchalantly the underlying domestic abuse case is being brushed aside, as if this victim nor future victims of domestic violence don’t deserve our city to protect them,” Stefani said.
Curtis Briggs, responding to the Board of Supervisors in a phone interview on Wednesday, said, “It’s frustrating because they clearly don’t understand the issue and they’re, they’re holding up a settlement that my, my client has been struggling for almost six months waiting for.
“He needs this money to get back on his feet,” he said. “So, it’s disappointing that they delayed it.”
According to Briggs, Spiers was attempting to console his girlfriend who had her purse stolen by someone at Fisherman’s Wharf.
“They were up there on a date,” he said. “He was giving her a hug. Telling her everything was going to be okay. Trying to calm her down.”
For reasons unknown, “two young ladies, for whatever reason, said that there was a domestic violence situation.”
Briggs said, “We know from ample evidence that wasn’t happening. But that’s what the police thought they got.”
He said, “They see my client hugging his girlfriend and Officer Stangel literally jumps out of the car and starts beating my client with a baton.”
Briggs noted that the girlfriend said this from the start, that they were “hugging and kissing.” But “they never took the opportunity to ask him to step away. They never took an opportunity to investigate. Officer Stangel literally jumped out of the car and started to beat Dacari with a baton within 30 or 45 seconds.”
Curtis Briggs also noted there was an interesting nuance to the story.
The girlfriend went to the hospital after the beating where Dacari Spiers is lying, receiving medical treatment.
“These cops forced their way into the hospital room, under the guise of serving a domestic violence restraining order, which they lied to a judge to get,” Briggs continued. “They had no domestic violence case. The supposed victim is saying ‘he was hugging me.’”
“This is how they cover their tracks,” Briggs said. “This situation got so crazy that hospital security had to intervene and kick the police out. And they put a hospital security officer (on duty). The director of security for the hospital had to stay by the door to protect Dacari from the police.”
Later on, on Wednesday, Chief Scott announced his office was pulling out of an MOU with the DA’s office.
“In July of 2021, the District Attorney’s Office (‘DA Office’) and the San Francisco Police Department (‘SFPD’) agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (‘MOU’) for the investigation of officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and uses of force incidents that result in serious bodily injury,” Scott wrote in a letter to DA Boudin.
“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,” Scott said.
He added, “It appears that the DA’s Office has an ongoing practice of investigations against SFPD officers that includes withholding and concealing information and evidence the SFPD is entitled to have to further ancillary criminal investigations in accordance with the MOU.”
Following the announcement by Chief Scott, Curtis Briggs spoke for a second time with the Vanguard.
“The Police Officers Association has been waiting for this,” he said.
In fact, the POA’s fingerprints are all over this. Briggs noted that Supervisor Catherine Stefani is heavily funded by the POA. Moreover, Hayashi’s attorney, Christopher Shea, acts as attorney to the POA as well.
“The thing with this issue with the DA Investigator is that the DA Investigator admitted to lying, she got on the stand and admitted to lying,” Briggs said. “But keep in mind, this DA Investigator was at the DA’s office well before Chesa.”
Briggs noted, “(Stangel) was dispatched based on (the 911 call), Sergeant O’Connor had interviewed them and they got a statement from them. And this statement in Stangel’s eyes is exculpatory… Because their premise is if Stangel was responding to a DV in progress, he has a right to jump out and start beating on people.”
But, Briggs said, “[i]t doesn’t change the fact that this investigator lied to the Police Sergeant about whether she got this interview or not.”
This interview took place in December 2019, before Chesa Boudin was the DA.
Briggs said, “But I also believe from our civil rights team that there are other interviews and recordings that the police had, where Stangel’s partners admit to seeing him do it (the beating) and didn’t understand why he did it.
“Those have never been disclosed to us,” he said. “So, there’s clearly some type of police withholding things.”
A spokesperson for the DA, Rachel Marshall, responded to the letter with a statement that noted, “Following a string of fatal shootings by SFPD officers, SFDA and SFPD signed a joint MOU in 2019 to ensure that police use of force incidents would be independently investigated so that officers who inflicted unlawful violence would be held accountable.
“Since the MOU between our office and SFPD went into effect, our office has made enormous progress towards reducing police violence against San Franciscans and particularly people of color.”
Marshall said, “It is disappointing, but no coincidence SFPD chose to withdraw from this agreement during the first-ever trial against an on-duty San Francisco police officer for an unlawful beating. SFPD’s decision comes a week after an SFPD fatal police shooting in which police falsely characterized the decedent as being in possession of a firearm and weeks after a criminal case was dismissed after officer excessive force came to light.”
She added, “San Franciscans deserve to be safe—including from unwarranted police violence.”
Meanwhile the Prosecutors Alliance of California urged Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors to intervene, following reports that the San Francisco Police Department intends to withdraw from an agreement that ensures police do not lead investigations into their own wrongdoing.
“It’s concerning that the Chief of Police has decided to unilaterally end this model agreement thus returning us to an era wherein police investigate themselves,” said Executive Director Cristine Soto DeBerry.
She added, “The agreement reached in San Francisco has become a national model that jurisdictions across the country have worked to replicate. We must ensure that an agreement serving the public interest is not torn to shreds by the very people whose personal and professional interests are involved.”
The release further notes that “the Chief of Police is ending the agreement due to a case that predates the current District Attorney. This timeline raises serious questions about legitimacy of the Chief’s motivations in ending independent investigations into cases of unlawful police use-of-force.”