Complaint Board Finds Police Officers Violated Policy By Arresting Public Defender Who Demanded They Stop Questioning Her Clients
from the and-not-a-single-officer-was-disciplined dept
More than a year after San Francisco police officers arrested public defender Jami Tillotson for doing her job, the city's Office of Citizen Complaints has issued its report. It clears Tillotson of any wrongdoing and lays the blame solely at the feet of the San Francisco PD.
First, a quick refresher, since we're discussing something that happened last January: Tillotson's clients were approached by police officers in a courthouse hallway. The officers began asking her clients questions and photographing them for a photo array. She inserted herself between the officers and the men and demanded the officers stop questioning them/photographing them without running it through her. The officers responded in the only way they knew how: they arrested her for resisting arrest -- an arrest in which she cooperated fully with no amount of resistance. (It seems like circular reasoning, but "resisting arrest" is a catch-all for other sorts of interference with police work, rather than simply resisting an arrest.)
Thirteen months later, the review board has this to say about the officers' actions.
Police arrested Jami Tillotson without cause in January 2015 and detained her in an "unduly prolonged manner without justification," the Office of Citizen Complaints concluded.The report was released by the public defender's office because presumably the SFPD had no plans to. In fact, the police chief -- despite dismissing charges and apologizing to Tillotson -- still insists his officers did nothing wrong.
The agency also determined that there was found a policy failure on two allegations: interfering with the right to counsel and conduct reflecting discredit on the department in the case of an officer who made inappropriate comments to the media following the incident.
[H]e stood by the actions of Sgt. Brian Stansbury and the other officers who arrested Tillotson. Stansbury "had reasonable suspicion to take the pictures” and a right to do so in a public area, the chief has said.Maybe so, but the complaint review board says otherwise. his officers may have had the "reasonable suspicion" to take pictures, but they clearly didn't have the right to continue to do so after being told not to by an officer of the court (the public defender), much less prevent her from doing her job by arresting her.